Can Detroit Lions fans trust the hype surrounding the team?

ALLEN PARK, MI – AUGUST 21: Detroit Lions WR (1) Jonathan Duhart and Detroit Lions S (35) Miles Killebrew pair off in drills during NFL football practice on August 21, 2019 at Detroit Lions Training Facilities in Allen Park, MI (Photo by Allan Dranberg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Year in and year out the Detroit Lions are projected to improve, some years enough to make the playoffs. Most years the Lions season ends in disappointment. Heading into today’s season opener against the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions hype is at fever pitch. Should fans trust the hype?

Football Outsiders, have listed the 2020 Detroit Lions not just a team that will move out of the NFC North’s basement, but a team that will go from worst to first. In this seasons Detroit Lions hype train the bold predictions started last January when multiple analysts said the Lions would take a massive step forward this coming season.

Sure the Detroit Lions offense lead by quarterback Matthew Stafford is a dangerous group. Stafford, WR, Kenny Golladay, TE, T.J. Hockenson and others give the Lions the best offense in the NFC North division. So that is reason for hope and hype.

On the flip slide, the Detroit Lions defense last season was abysmal and that is being kind. Lions general manager Bob Quinn has rebuilt the defensive unit for 2020. Signing LB, Jamie Collins, Danny Shelton and Reggie Rangland and some others give the defense at least signs of hope.

The question is did Bob Quinn improve the defense enough? Also the offensive line looks like a hot mess at this time. There has been no preseason games this year due to the pandemic. So it is hard to get a pulse on what the Lions have on the defense as a whole and offensive line.

With two games right out of the gate against NFC North teams the Bears week 1 and Green Bay Packers week 2, the Detroit Lions of 2020 can not afford a slow start.

Both general manager Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia were told by then Lions owner Martha Ford they needed to win or else at the conclusion of last season. Martha Ford turned the team over to her daughter, Sheila Ford Hamp who now serves as Principal Owner and Chairman.

It remains to be seen if Hamp will make changes if needed at the end of the season after the win or else mandate came from the previous owner.

So here we are on the verge of another Detroit Lions season and the hype train, all aboard with caution.

 

The Detroit Lions have established the 2020 practice squad

PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 22: A Detroit Lions helmets prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 22, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Having identified the 53 man roster Saturday, the Detroit Lions practice squad will  will look familiar to fans who follow the team closely. The 16 players who make up the practice squad have been in training camp with the Lions. Roughly three-quarters were with the Lions in some capacity last season.

The players chosen for the practice squad were, offensive lineman Beau Benzschawel, quarterback David Blough, wide receiver Victor Bolden, safety Jalen Elliott,  defensive tackle Frank Herron, wide receiver Tom Kennedy, tight end Isaac Nauta, linebacker Anthony Pittman, safety Bobby Price, punter Arryn Siposs, defensive tackle Kevin Strong, cornerback Dee Virgin, guard Kenny Wiggins, running back Jonathan Williams, long snapper Steve Wirtel and defensive end Jonathan Wynn.

This year the NFL has expanded practice squads from 10 to 16 players. This is the first year that practice squads could include veterans. Which allowed the Detroit Lions to sign Kenny Wiggins (  offensive lineman  ) to the squad.

The NFL practice squads function differently. NFL teams can protect up to four players per-week that other teams are not allowed to sign. The 12 players who are not protected can be eligible to sign with another team’s active roster during the week.

One player the Detroit Lions cut Saturday but were hoping to bring back to the practice squad was running back Jason Huntley, who was claimed by the Philadelphia Eagles.

The practice squad or taxi squad, is a group of players signed by a team but not part of their main roster. They can be used in practice as part of the scout team or a fill-in for an injured player.Because the NFL does not have a minor league these players serve as a minor league of sorts. They can be signed to the active roster if and as needed.

This is the group the Lions feel can help the roster most. So the 2020 Detroit Lions are ready for the season to start Sunday against the Chicago Bears.

A look at the Detroit Lions 53 man roster

GLENDALE, AZ – SEPTEMBER 08: A detailed view of a Detroit Lions helmet during the NFL football game between the Detroit Lions and the Arizona Cardinals on September 8, 2019 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

At first glance the Detroit Lions roster is heavy at wide receiver, linebacker and cornerback. When the Lions entered Saturday’s cut down day, the roster stood at 79 players. Detroit head coach Matt Patricia said ” I hate it, it’s the worse,” when addressing the media about cut day. So let’s look at the newly constructed Detroit Lions roster.

Quarterbacks (2)-

Kept, Matthew Stafford, Chase Daniel

Gone- David Blough

Blough is gone at least for now. The quarterback had show improvement in training camp, enough to be a backup. Perhaps the Lions will look to sign him to the P.S. (practice squad) if he is not claimed by another team.

Running Back (5)

Kept- Kerryon Johnson, D’Andre Swift, Bo Scarbrough, Ty Johnson, Jason Cabinda

Gone- Jonathan Williams, Wes Hills, Jason Huntley

The surprise in the running back group is fifth round draft pick Huntley was cut. Huntley had a very good camp. The running back looked like he had some real playmaking ability with the ball in his hands during camp practices.

Wide Receiver (6)

Kept- Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola, Marvin Hall, Quintez Cephus, Jamal Agnew

Gone- Chris Lacy, Tom Kennedy, Victor Bolden

No surprises here. The only question is how Patrica and his coaching staff rotate players.

Tight End (3)

Kept- T.J. Hockenson, Jesse James, Hunter Bryant

Gone- Isaac Nauta, Matt Sokol

Hunter Bryant beating out Isaac Nauta is an eye raiser, simply because Bryant was an undrafted rookie and has been sidelined with a sore hamstring the past two weeks.

Offensive line (8)

Kept- Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Joe Dahl, Jonah Jackson, Tyrell Crosby, Logan Stenberg, Matt Nelson

Gone-  Oday Aboushi, Kenny Wiggins, Beau Benzschawel, Dan Skipper (waived injured)

The Lions are going light on interior linemen. Kenny Wiggins was supposed to be the replacement for Graham Glasgow who signed with the Denver Broncos as a free agent, the fact the Lions cut Wiggins was a bit of a surprise.

Defensive Line (7)

Kept-  Trey Flowers, Danny Shelton, Nick Williams, Julian Okwara, Da’Shawn Hand, Romeo Okwara, John Penisini

Gone- Kevin Strong, Frank Herron, Will Clarke, Olive Sagapolu, Albert Huggins, Kevin Wilkins

The only interesting thought with the defensive line unit is Da’ Shawn Hand has been dinged up at different times during his career. The Lions did not opt to keep and extra linemen for injury.

Linebackers (7)

Kept-  Jamie Collins Sr., Jarrad Davis, Christian Jones, Jahlani Tavai, Reggie Ragland, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Elijah Lee

Gone- Anthony Pittman

No surprise Patrica went heavy at linebacker as they drive his defense.

Defensive Backs (12)

Kept- Desmond Trufant, Jeff Okudah, Justin Coleman, Amani Oruwariye, Tracy Walker, Duron Harmon, Will Harris, Darryl Roberts, Tony McRae, Miles Killebrew, C.J. Moore, Mike Ford

Gone- Dee Virgin, Jalen Elliott, Bobby Price

Patrica again went heavy with defensive backs. Detroit Lions 2020 first round draft pick Jeff Okudah did not win a starting job in training camp. Detroit will go (at least for now) with Amani Oruwariye as a started when they face the Chicago Bears next Sunday.

Specialists (3)

Kept-  Matt Prater, Jack Fox, Don Muhlbach

Gone- Arryn Siposs, Steven Wirtel

In a very close competition Jack Fox won the Lions punting job. Fox had the stronger leg and showed to be more consistent in training camp.

The Detroit Lions expect tight end T.J. Hockenson to take “the next step,” year 2

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 08: Tight end T.J. Hockenson #88 of the Detroit Lions catches a pass prior to the NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

T. J. Hockenson is the Detroit Lions undisputed No. 1 tight end on the depth chart. During his rookie campaign Hockenson caught 32 balls for 367 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games. A nice rookie season that ended with an ankle injury. Now the young tight end looks to improve heading into his sophomore season.

T. J. Hockenson was the Detroit Lions 2019 first round draft pick out of the University of Iowa. The biggest question Hockenson faces is weather he can be a threat in the Lions passing game week in and week out.

Before COVID-19 shut many things down, T. J. Hockenson was working with  Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez. Who during his playing days had rookie numbers close to that of Hockenson. Gonzalez’s rookie numbers were 33 catches for 368 yards and two scores in 16 games.

During the offseason, Hockenson worked out and bulked up. That should help him in his all around game. Bulking up alone does not help a players game. That comes from talent. By all accounts Hockenson has the talent to join the short list of NFL’s best tight ends.

One area of concern is the aforementioned ankle injury sustained last season. Hockenson recently said he is still not 100%. The fact that as time has past and the Lions tight end still has persisting ankle issues is of note.

The Detroit Lions are banking on Hockenson taking the next step forward this season. What is unknown at this time is how much playing time he will have on a bulky ankle.

T. J. Hockenson has all the tools to be an elite tight end. If he can take the next step the Detroit Lions offense will be even more dangerous.

The Detroit Lions lockup two players to contract extensions

DETROIT, MI – SEPTEMBER 15: Kenny Golladay #19 of the Detroit Lions celebrates a reception during the fourth quarter of the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Ford Field on September 15, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit defeated Los Angeles 10-13. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

The Detroit Lions made two investments. One is a done deal, the other could come as early as today. Yesterday the Lions signed left tackle Taylor Decker to a four year deal that is valued at $85 million with $37.5 million in guarantees. Now comes word wide receiver Kenny Golladay is close to signing an extension as well.

Taylor Decker, who was a first round draft pick for the Detroit Lions in 2016, has appeared in 55 games over four seasons with the Lions. Decker’s play has become more consistent since entering the NFL, has earned the pay raise. Decker is also a vocal leader for the Lions football team.

A third round draft pick out of Northern Illinois in 2017, Kenny Golladay plays like a first round draft pick. The gifted young receiver has been valuable as a big play weapon for the Lions offense,  Golladay led the NFL with 11 receiving touchdowns, ranked third with 18.3 yards per reception and seventh with 1,190 receiving yards in 2019.

Kenny also was tied in league lead with five touchdown’s of a least 25 yards. In early August Golladay made it clear he wants to be in Detroit, “I want to be here, Really, I’m just going to let my agent, and (the) front office take care of that. I’m pretty sure something will get done.” Golladay told reporters.

The ink had barely dried on the Taylor Decker’s contract extension, now reports are Kenny Golladay is about to sign one. Perhaps a joint  announcement will be coming soon. Either way this is good news for the Detroit Lions.

To lockup two players that have proven worth and have both gotten better year in and year out this is the right move for Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn to take.

Both players and teammates will not have this hanging over them and the team when the season kicks off September 15 against the Chicago Bears. So the focus will be on games and game prep.

The Detroit Lions hopes hang on the back of Matthew Stafford

It does not take someone good at math to figure out the Detroit Lions. Quarterback Matthew Stafford missed the last eight games of last season with a broken back. The Detroit Lions lost all eight games. Now Stafford is healthy again and by all accounts looks very good in training camp.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has looked crisp thus far in the Detroit Lions 2020 training camp. In fact one practice Stafford did not throw one incomplete pass. Detroit area media members, teammates and the Lions coaching staff have all taken notice to how good the longtime starting quarterback has looked.

“Man, he’s been awesome, He’s dialed in, locked into the coaching, the teaching, practice, meetings, his leadership has been outstanding. I think he’s fired up every day out there, he’s competing really hard and wants everything to be perfect, and you love the drive of everything that he does right now.” Detroit head coach Matt Matt Patricia said.

As for the broken back that sidelined Stafford last season, that has healed. He is good to go for the opener against the Chicago Bears in just 15 days. The Detroit Lions have plenty of offensive weapons for Stafford and that unit can be down right scary to face.

Many experts expect the Lions offense to be one of the tops in the NFL this season. The way Stafford has looked so far has risen the offensive expectations.

The only question is can Stafford stay healthy and on the field? If so the Detroit Lions are very capable of being a very good team. If he is injured it could go downhill in a hurry much like last season.

So the offensive line, tight ends and blocking backs must do everything to keep Stafford on his feet and healthy. The Lions could be a team that makes a leap if the franchise quarterback stays on the field the entire season.

The Detroit Lions select Ohio State defensive back Jeffery Okudah in the first round

Embed from Getty Images With the third pick in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft the Detroit Lions took a player who many experts tabbed, Jeffery Okudah. The Ohio State product Okudah is said to be the best defensive back prospect this century.

When a defensive player who is gifted is there for the taking, you take. That is exactly what Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn did. Quinn did not over-think the pick, it was too easy. So what are the Lions getting in their prized first round pick? Let’s take a look.

With any defensive back feet and hips are critical. Jeffery Okudah has some ungodly feet. Okudah is smooth in his pedal and shuffle outside of his frame while retaining excellent balance and maintaining a base to recover and change direction depending on the angle of the play.

Man to man or zone, Okudah plays them both very well. Okudah  disrupts route timing and anticipates route breaks very well. Okudak improved on  baiting quarterbacks into throws in 2019-20.

Extremely relaxed at the line of scrimmage with the ability to mirror wide receivers release, Okudah is also aggressive and generates displacement without losing balance.

What sets Jeffery Okudah apart from the rest of the players in his field is his ball skills. Explosive with leaping ability with good length and timing to address the ball at the high point. Blessed with a good feel for route distribution and drop sequencing.

Okudah excels in dropping from off coverage and zone alignments and has a clear understanding how route spacing overlaps zone coverage to take away the quarterback first read.

While at Ohio State Okudah was never out of position. He never failed to recover and attack back to the ball.  Flexibility, foot work, and near flawless  balance are all at an elite level for Okudah. His perfect hip placement made Okudah a top five draft prospect.

Jeffery Okudah is not the best tackling cornerback. That is okay. He is a shutdown corner who has not been put in position to make many tackles. That is what the Detroit Lions expect him to do at the next level. Shut down the man lined up across from him.

The Detroit Lions want players who are ready to play

Embed from Getty Images As you read the headline you probably were thinking “no kidding.” However, with no offseason workouts because of COVID-19, it is importantant the Detroit Lions get the number three pick in the draft right. Not only that but it needs to be a player who can step in a deliver.

An advantage the Detroit Lions and general manager Bob Quinn had was that Quinn and the Lions coaching staff coached in the Senior Bowl. Giving the shutdown of most public events and gatherings this has actually turned out to be huge.

There are some very good defensive players in this draft class. That is good news for a Detroit team needing upgrades in the secondary and at edge rusher. The Lions are in a good position to make a pick or trade down and grab some extra picks.

So what is an example of a player who is and who is not NFL ready you ask? Let’s take Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons. The talented linebacker/safety has been mocked by some to the Lions. But is is an example of while a good player he would need an adjustment time. This to me makes Simmons a less likely player to he headed to Detroit.

While a player who can step in right away and help out and greatly improve the defense is a player like Ohio State defensive back Jeff Okudah. Okudah checks all of the boxes. A big defensive back, quick, will be a shut-down corner. Okudah has great hip control (which is huge for defensive backs) and is a solid tackler. This should be the Lions pick even if they slide back one or two slots.

In this years draft, general managers will be making their selections from their homes due to the current pandemic. Bob Quinn said yesterday any and all trades will be made ahead of the draft for all teams.

Quinn said he has two laptops, two cell phones, three monitors, as well as a big screen T.V for the draft. Quinn said he and the Detroit Lions coaches and scouts are ready for the 2020 draft.

Bob Quinn said as far as he understands there will be an NFL season, but is unsure what that will exactly look like at this time. But it all starts Thursday with the 2020 NFL draft.

Detroit Lions Amani Oruwariye could have an expanded role

Embed from Getty Images The 2019 Detroit Lions defense struggled. The Detroit secondary which had it’s share of ups and downs, was the group largely to blame. With the departure of top cornerback Darius Slay, second year corner Amani Oruwariye could see more playing time.

Drafted in the fifth-round of last years draft, the Penn State product Oruwariye played in just nine games as a rookie. His production in those nine games gives the Lions some hope.

With a respectable 17 solo tackles with two interceptions Amani Oruwariye showed promise while playing in only 19% of the Detroit Lions defensive snaps.

The 2020 NFL draft is two weeks away and the Lions will look to improve the secondary. With that said Oruwariye may be Detroit general manager Bob Quinn’s best late-round draft picks.

Amani Oruwariye, has both very good speed and the the ultra important length, teams look for at the cornerback position. Entering only his second pro season Oruwariye has the making of a player who could push for CB2.

As well as he played Amani Oruwariye is still growing into his role. Oruwariye plays physical and improved his tackling. Something scouts wondered if he could before last years draft.

Oruwariye has been praised for his intense film study habits. Oruwariye who has to face Detroit Lions wide receivers Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay in practice has said he believes facing them has helped in his game.

If the Detroit Lions draft a cornerback with the teams first round draft pick it would give the Lions a young athletic combo at DB. Something the team has struggled to do through their history.

Two young dynamic corners would give the rest of the Lions defense the flexibility to rush the quarterback and stop the run. This must be the path Bob Quinn takes. It would be a quick way to fix the defense.

Report the Detroit Lions have had talks with multiple teams for the third pick in the draft

Embed from Getty Images NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell informed all 32 NFL teams that the 2020 NFL draft would proceed in a fully virtual format. This is to make sure the the NFL is in compliance with current regulations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Detroit Lions who currently own the third pick in the draft are looking to trade back.

NFL insider Ian Rapoport, broke the news that Detroit has had talks with multiple teams interested in the third overall pick. This comes as no surprise that Detroit is “open for business.” The ideal is that the Lions would move back while gaining more draft picks.

The Detroit Lions currently have seven picks in the 2020 draft, including one in each of the first four rounds and two in the fifth round. With Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa having been cleared medically, quarterback needy teams began calling Detroit general manager Bob Quinn.

The Detroit Lions have been linked heavily to two defensive players, Ohio State cornerback, Jeff Okudah and Auburn’s defensive tackle, Derrick Brown. Also to a lesser degree Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons.

The defensive needy Lions could land anyone of the three who would upgrade the defense even if they traded back. The Miami Dolphins were said to have serious interest in Tagovailoa.

Bob Quinn is in good position. He could make a trade and get more draft picks and improve the Lions roster. Quinn could also choose to stand pat  and draft one of the defensive players.

The guess here is that Detroit will move back. It is the right move to make. Get the defensive player at a better slot for the value pick. The Dolphins with three first round picks have the assets to pry the third pick in the draft from Detroit.

58 NFL draft prospects are going to be joining the draft virtually.

The draft runs from April 23-25, with the round schedule as follows:

Thursday, April 23: Round 1
Friday, April 24: Rounds 2-3
Saturday, April 25: Rounds 4-7

The first round Thursday, April 23 starts at 8 p.m. ET and will be shown on ESPN.