Vilified Lions’ Roster Spot Cheered Ahead of 2022: ‘Could Be Special’

Charles Harris

Getty Charles Harris celebrates a play on the field for the Lions against the Cardinals in 2021.

After a tough year in the defensive trenches in 2021, the Detroit Lions made improving their defensive line a major goal in the 2022 offseason. Consider that mission more than accomplished heading toward a new season.

Suddenly, Detroit’s room is jam-packed with talent that has the proper blend of youth and experience in the league, and as a result, they could be poised to surprise some people this coming season when the games start.

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Recently, and writer Gregg Rosenthal took a look at projecting starters across the NFC North for the 2022 season. The Lions saw a bit of a surprise in Rosenthal’s piece when he picked Aidan Hutchinson, Alim McNeill, Romeo Okwara and Charles Harris as the team’s starters up front. Additionally, it was a mild shock to see him proclaiming some possibly good things for the group.

“The defensive line could be special. Here are some players that didn’t even crack the group above: Michael Brockers, second-round pick Joshua Pascal, promising second-year pro Levi Onwuzurike and Romeo Okwara’s brother, Julian, who improved under Glenn last year. To put it another way: Aidan Hutchinson does not need to carry the group. He’ll have plenty of help,” Rosenthal wrote within the piece.

Indeed, that list doesn’t include plenty of big names, from 2021 standouts like Austin Bryant and Julian Okwara to rookie Josh Paschal and also Brockers. As a whole, this simply shows the depth the Lions have up front for a new season, and why there is so much hope for change. The group has almost completely turned over from 2019 and 2020.

It’s an interesting projection now, but obviously, a lot can change before the season begins. Still, it’s notable to see a once-weakened roster spot start to claim some early praise.

Lions Defensive Line Looking Deep for 2022

Detroit has added interesting pieces to the mix that figure to help them in a big way during the new year on defense, especially up front. The Lions will have Romeo Okwara coming back off injury, and witnessed the emergence of his brother Julian Okwara in 2021. Additionally, Detroit has 2021 picks Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill looking primed to take their next steps. In the 2022 NFL draft, the team added Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal, who figure to be instant contributors. Sixth-round pick James Houston may also offer something. Veterans like Michael Brockers and Charles Harris will return to provide some punch up front, and young players like John Penisini, Jashon Cornell and 2021 camp standout Bruce Hector will also be scrapping for roles. Add it up and the neighborhood is suddenly very tough for Bryant and others this season, no matter what they may have done recently.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to see Detroit’s defensive line being one of the deepest units on the team in 2022, which could leave multiple players on the inside looking out of an intense looming roster battle. Seeing who the starters will be is going to become must-watch later on this summer.

Lions’ 2021 and 2022 Classes Could Spark Turnaround

The Lions have committed to a complete turnaround and overhaul up front in the last two drafts, and it could start to pay off as soon as the 2022 season. Last year, Detroit selected the rising Onwuzurike as well as McNeill. The team backed that up in 2022 with Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal. Combined with the emergence of some other younger names, it could be safe to say that Detroit’s line could take the next step forward soon because of a pair of their latest draft classes most of all. If the Lions’ defense starts getting tougher up front, the young players from 2021 and 2022 will be a big reason why that is the case.

Finally, the Lions seem to have taken an interest in investing heavily on the defensive front. It isn’t a stretch to say that could be a major reason the team opens some eyes starting now.

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