When folks look at the Detroit Lions roster, most see the need for multiple better players at multiple positions on the field. Not many folks see reason for optimism, but looking a bit closer, there could be multiple reasons for that.
Whereas many see the team’s weak points, there are just as many strong points to note heading toward the future, and many involve players who have either been maligned or are getting overlooked en-route to a new season on the field.
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Which players on the team are being most underrated at this point? Here’s a look at some of the top names to remember in Detroit.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai, G
Other than Jahlani Tavai, there has been no player more maligned than Vaitai with Lions fans that is currently on the roster. Most see his contract as a colossal waste of money, and even though Vaitai has struggled, it’s more than possible that was due to injury and position uncertainty rather than play. Vaitai wasn’t healthy from the start last season, and this year, the challenge will be for him to stay healthy early on and maintain that through training camp as well as the preseason and early part of the season. Vaitai will be entrenched at right guard this season, and if he has a better start, will be able to look much better to fans. Vaitai has size and talent, and he is only 28. It’s possible that he has a much better season this year than in 2020 to aid in a bounce back. The Lions need that as bad as Vaitai does.
Quintez Cephus, WR
Cephus isn’t going to grab many headlines in terms of wideouts on the Lions roster given all the change at the spot, but he is one of the only holdovers from 2020 and has plenty of production to rely on. Cephus didn’t see the ball too often in Detroit’s old scheme given who else was being targeted on that side of the ball, but with changes being swift this offseason, he is coming in underrated. Cephus was a star wideout in college and he can be that way in the pros with a bigger chance and more seasoning. He’s expected to get both this coming season in Detroit, which could make him a name to remember. That’s true even as plenty of Lions fans are likely forgetting his name right now.
Amani Oruwariye, CB
While most folks fret about the development of Jeff Okudah as well as wonder about the team’s free agency signings such as Quinton Dunbar and Corn Elder, Oruwarye is still calmly holding down his end of the bargain and has been developing decently early in his career. Oruwariye has size and the ability to get after it in between the lines and be a solid cornerback to bookend the others the Lions have. Many don’t think about him, but it’s probably not wise to overlook a guy who could become one of the most productive players on the team.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB
The Lions had a very busy offseason that was punctuated by a flurry of moves. But what was one of the first? Very quietly, it was re-signing Reeves-Maybin to the team. The linebacker plays a valuable role on special teams, and can be a player who competes for snaps given some of the drastic changes that have played out on the defensive side of the football this offseason. Reeves-Maybin can battle to see if he gets a chance to play, and the Lions look to like what he has to offer. That could combine to make him very underrated for this coming season.
Jared Goff, QB
When Lions fans talk about Goff, they usually think of him as a placeholder or a player who will soon be replaced. This is due to the fact that many in the national media have been negative about him upon his trade to Detroit. Even in spite of that, it should be hard to overlook Goff’s talent and accomplishments in the league. He’s won division titles, and has also been a player who has 7 playoff victories. Coming to a new team, Goff figures to be energized as well. While nobody knows exactly what to expect, it’s reasonable to think that Goff is being severely underrated on plenty of fronts this season.
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