The Detroit Lions struggled with depth all season long in 2021 along the defensive front, but after a busy offseason, suddenly, that spot may be one of the deepest on the team.
Not only are the Lions stacked with young talent, they have some quality veteran players who are grinding for roles as well and that could mean trouble for one of the older players on the team in the form of Michael Brockers.
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Brought to Detroit in a 2021 offseason trade from Los Angeles, Brockers was expected to provide some leadership and production up front right away last year. On the leadership front, Brockers was an immediate success, but he didn’t have the most productive season which could leave his future roster status in jeopardy.
Recently, Bleacher Report and Maurice Moton put together a list of players they would consider to be surprise veteran cuts in 2022. The Lions had Brockers crack the list, and while Moton conceded he could be an important player for Detroit’s rebuild in terms of leadership, some other production variables might leave him on the outside looking in.
“The Lions can cut Brockers and allow their young defensive linemen to soak up meaningful snaps,” Moton wrote in the piece, also citing the fact Brockers put up 52 tackles, 1 sack, 5 pressures and 4 tackles for-loss. As he wrote, Detroit has “younger, versatile defensive linemen who can fill Brockers’ role and potentially replicate or exceed those stats in their new even-man front.”
If Brockers is indeed cut, it will be because several of those players look more than ready to shoulder major NFL roles. Whether that’s the case or not will be hashed out in the coming weeks, but it could be something to watch for once camp gets going later this summer.
Brockers Praised Team’s Young Depth
Ironically, the potential downfall of Brockers this year could be due to a factor which he was happy to point out at the end of the 2021 season. One of the biggest positives for the Lions last year was the fact that the team managed to play a ton of young players, thus getting them major experience for the future. Though some of the defeats were frustrating, the benefit came in how young defenders gained plenty of traction for the future.
Speaking to the media on January 13 following the season, Brockers was asked about his feelings for the future. As he said, he feels positive about the direction of the team, mostly due to the fact that the young players have been able to play a huge role for the team and gain plenty of experience for the future.
“We had a lot of growth. We played a lot of young players. We had a lot of young players have to play and guys that had to step up. When their name was called, they had to be ready to play,” Brockers explained to the media at the time. “We were able to play a lot of young guys and put them in situations where they might have gotten beat, might have had something happen but they learned lessons. I think that was the biggest deal about this year, allowing a lot of our young guys to get the experience that they need and go forward with that. Moving in the future, you’ve got a lot of second-year guys who had a lot of experience in the season and they can get the job done. So I think that was the biggest thing, seeing the growth of this team over the season.”
Interestingly enough, with names like Alim McNeill, Levi Onwuzurike, Julian Okwara, Austin Bryant, John Penisini and others taking strides in the last few years up front and Aidan Hutchinson as well as Josh Paschal coming into the fray, the roster bubble may have tightened considerably at Brockers’ own position on the field.
If he doesn’t manage to make the team, Brockers might only have young depth up front to blame as the reason why.
Brockers’ Career Stats & Highlights
The impact Brockers has made early in his career after he was a first-round pick of the Rams out of LSU back in 2012 cannot be debated. He has been an anchor in the middle of the team’s line and a player that is capable of packing a punch in the pocket. Brockers has put up 387 total tackles, 28 sacks, 9 passes defended and 2 forced fumbles in his career in Los Angeles. Moreover, he’s been to the Super Bowl and is a veteran leader the team has been able to count on when he has played in the league.
Here’s a look at some highlights:
When playing for the Lions, the team saw Brockers bring some of his patented pocket pressure as well as his leadership to the team. During the 2021-22 season, he put up 52 tackles and 1 sack for the team. His leadership, though, always seemed like the most important variable for a Lions team trying to change their entire culture.
If the Lions do indeed move on this offseason, they may lose a lot in the locker room. Early on, some people are warning that he could be poised to be a major veteran cut for the team.