The Detroit Lions spent a lot of time and effort on making sure their defensive line was fixed this offseason, and that sets up a scenario where the team could be loaded heading into the 2022 season.
A flip side of that? The Lions also figure to have a group that is very deep and figures to have some great battles to see who ends up playing what position. That’s just what folks see when they look forward to the future and the impending training camp period later this summer.
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Pro Football Focus and writer Sam Monson took a look at picking out some of the best training camp battles in the league at every single position this year. The Lions had a battle that cracked this list at edge rusher between rookies Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal and veterans Charles Harris and Romeo Okwara.
Monson sees the spot as competitive given the different skillset of the players the team added, as well as their production. He likes Hutchinson’s chance to start, but admits that Harris had a great 2021 season to boost his own hopes. Additionally, he reminds that Okwara was a former force for the Lions and could be a threat to do it again.
“This is a talented group of rushers and if things improve elsewhere on the defense, they could platoon to be a formidable unit,” Monson wrote in the piece.
No matter who starts where or for how many snaps, the Lions could be in great shape thanks to more depth. That’s something which hadn’t always been the case in Detroit.
Lions Rebuilt Defensive Line With Multiple Moves
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.
How Competition May Shake out for Lions’ Defensive Line
The Lions figure to have a very busy time getting everyone into the mix and ironing things out. As is pointed out by PFF, Hutchinson could have the inside track to a big role based on where he was drafted and how he has looked so. far, but it’s not safe to count out Harris or Okwara to play a huge role in 2022. It’s possible that the Lions are going to get all of these guys into the mix in their own way which will only add to the versatility of the team’s front and the danger they will present to other teams this season.
Something has to be done for the Lions, especially on the defensive front. The team struggled to the tune of only collecting 30 sacks last year, and the players seem to know that they have to find a way to step up and make some things happen on the field to turn things around. That should lead to some major competition to see who fills what role this coming season on the field.
All of that may indeed start in training camp this coming season in Detroit.