Fourth round draft pick, Derrick Barnes is set for a larger role with the Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions General Manager, Brad Holmes continues his purge of former Lions GM Bob Quinn’s roster. This time linebacker Jamie Collins has one foot out of town as the Lions announced they are shopping the linebacker and looking for a trade partner. Enter fourth round draft pick Derrick Barnes, the former Purdue Boilermaker is set to make a bigger impact on the Lions starting Sunday.

DETROIT, MI – AUGUST 27: Detroit Lions linebacker Derrick Barnes (55) during the Detroit Lions vs Indianapolis Colts preseason game on Friday August 27, 2021 at Ford Field in Detroit, MI. (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Detroit Lions are not only one of, if not the youngest teams in the NFL, are set to get both younger and more athletic with Derrick Barnes in the lineup. Jamie Collins is a good linebacker, this is not a slam on him. Collins simply does not fit the vision of the Detroit Lions front office and coaching staff.

Derrick Barnes enjoyed a standout preseason. So much so that he left both fans and the Lions coaching staff to wonder what more he could offer. Now he gets his chance. It appears that Barnes will play most if not all the Lions base defensive packages. Linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin will enter games in nickel situations.

Other than his speed and explosiveness to the point of contact, Barnes’ ability to drop back in coverage, is what the Detroit Lions coaching staff likes about the young Barnes who is also a film junkie, he studies opposing teams and then applies what he finds during film sessions.

For the Detroit Lions who are rebuilding, and adding more speed and athleticism to the roster, giving Derrick Barnes a chance to show what he can do in an expanded role is what is best for both player and organization.

Brad Holmes and the Detroit Lions had a very solid 2021 NFL draft. To date six players drafted have all seen playing time. This is what Holmes has been known for.

Detroit Lions linebacker Derrick Barnes (55) reacts after a play during the first half of an NFL preseason football game between the Detroit Lions and the Indianapolis Colts in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Friday, August 27, 2021. (Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

As for Derrick Barnes, his time has come. It is up to him to show he can stick in a larger role. Popular thought is he will.

San Francisco 49ers vs Detroit Lions game recap

There was bad, there was awful, there was some good sprinkled in and a rally that fell short. Just like that the Detroit Lions 2021 home and season opener came and went. The Lions had eight new players on offense and four newcomers on defense. The team also have a new head coach and coaching staff and a new general manager. No other NFL team has undergone more substantial changes.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – SEPTEMBER 12: Jamaal Williams #30 of the Detroit Lions carries the ball against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half at Ford Field on September 12, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Let’s dive right into the bad. I mean there is no sugarcoating it. The Lions defense is bad. Bad may be a kind word to use. Former Lions head coach Matt Patricia was viewed as one of the problems of the defense. That simply is not entirely true. The Lions gave up 31 first half points to the 49ers.

New Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff looked, well bad and lost at times. To be fair the Lions roster is void of playmaking wide receivers. Still Goff is a good deep ball passer and did not attempt very many deep passes.

Some good news 2021 Detroit Lions draftee Derrick Barnes played well. The young linebacker played well and made some very nice tackles. Barnes looks like a player who should see more playing time until he cracks the starting lineup. If he continues to play well his time should come quickly.

One unit that was viewed as the Lions strength lived up to the billing. The offensive line. They opened running space for the backs. The Lions ran for 116 yards a marked improvement over the past several seasons. Second year player Jonah Jackson and rookie Penei Sewell stood out. Both players held their own vs a 49ers defense that is one of the leagues best.

ALLEN PARK, MICHIGAN – JULY 28: Detroit Lions head football coach Dan Campbell speaks with the media before the Detroit Lions Training Camp on July 28, 2021 in Allen Park, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

The Lions had a late flurry and almost pulled off a comeback. The team showed fight and fought until the end. That is something head coach Dan Campbell vowed when he took the head coaching job his team would do.

Rebuilds are not fun and losses mount. But if the Detroit Lions can come away with positives and fight until the end, the losses will be easier to take.

Detroit Lions: Jared Goff and General Manager, Brad Holmes are not tied together

As far as the NFL goes there is a rule of thumb. That rule of thumb is that quarterbacks are tied to general managers. Meaning, when drafted or signed as a free agent or even traded for, the general manger (GM) and his job security is directly tied to the quarterback that is brought in. When Detroit Lions general manger Brad Holmes traded longtime starting quarterback (QB) Matthew Stafford and received draft picks and Los Angeles Rams starting quarterback Jared Goff many believed Holmes and Goff were tied together. I do not view that as the case here is why.

ALLEN PARK, MICHIGAN – JULY 28: General Manager Brad Holmes of the Detroit Lions looks on during the Detroit Lions Training Camp on July 28, 2021 in Allen Park, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

No matter if Brad Holmes is true to his word (no reason to think otherwise) and he and the Detroit Lions were happy to get Jared Goff in the blockbuster trade or if Goff was a salary dump by the Rams, it does not change the fact Goff is now the starting QB in Detroit.

Due to his contract Goff will need to be on the Lions roster at least two years before the team can move on if that is what they choose. That said, I do not believe Brad Holmes job is in any trouble as long as Goff is the Lions quarterback win or loss.

The Lions are in a rebuild. A rebuild that in the early stages is off to a solid start. Holmes has focused, both his first draft as Lions GM and free agency on building the offensive and defensive lines. Which in my opinion is the right way to build a team.

It is also my opinion that Jared Goff will at the very least serve as the rebuild QB. This can work in the Lions favor. If Jared Goff can recapture his Pro Bowl form he could be a longer-term solution for the Lions who then would not need to use a high draft pick for a quarterback. If Goff’s play continues to decline, the Lions are only on the hook for two years before they can move him.

ALLEN PARK, MICHIGAN – MAY 27: Principal Owner and Chairman Sheila Ford Hamp and General Manager Brad Holmes watch the afternoon practice session on May 27, 2021 in Allen Park, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

This is one case I feel where GM and quarterback are not tied at the hip. It is a rare exception dues to the rebuild that is taking place.

What will success look like for the 2021 Detroit Lions

It is nearly here again. The 2021-22 NFL football season which started this past Thursday. For the rebuilding Detroit Lions and a roster that is in transition this will be a difficult season for wins to be found. Losses will be aplenty. That is alright, this will hardly be a throwaway season. The Lions have plenty to play for and that is what the focus should be on. So for this season and most likely next forget about wins and losses. Here is what the team needs to focus on.

ALLEN PARK, MI – AUGUST 10: Detroit Lions Jalen Elliott safety (42), Detroit Lions Alex Brown cornerback (27), and Detroit Lions safety Booby Price (47) wait their turn to run drills during Detroit Lions Training Camp on August 10, 2021 at Lions Practice Facility in Allen Park, MI (Photo by Allan Dranberg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The first focal point for the Detroit Lions should be the development of this years draft class. A class that was widely praised as one of the best in the NFL. Lions General Manager, Brad Holmes, really made a mark with the solid draft class.

Many of the Lions draftees showed themselves very well during preseason games. Many people would argue it was just preseason. But young players are made or broken in preseason games.

Next the Lions need to focus on compete level. While the team will loses more than they win, they need to compete in games. By compete I mean fight and keep fighting until the final tick of the clock. Do not give in, do not give up.

The final focus for the 2021 Detroit Lions is to show improvement in December. Why December? Well the season will be nearing the end. It is also enough time for young players to establish themselves in terms of growth. There still will not be many wins, but more importantly young players stepping up into a more defined role and gaining more playing time is much more critical that wins.

LANDOVER, MD – NOVEMBER 24: A Detroit Lions helmet rests on the field before the game between the Washington Redskins and the Detroit Lions at FedExField on November 24, 2019 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Sure there are other things that the Detroit Lions can and perhaps should focus on. In my opinion development, compete level and improvement late in the season are the most pressing focal points that can lead to a bright future.

Defensive back Jeff Okudah has some telling words about former Detroit Lions coaches

To say Jeff Okudah struggled during his rookie season is to say the sun is bright. Okudah struggled with injuries and when healthy he struggled to cover the wide receiver across from him. Yet, Jeff Okudah came out of Ohio State as a top 5 talent, who was widely viewed by NFL and football experts as the top cornerback in last years NFL Draft. Day’s ago during an interview Okudah shed some light on why he struggled so mightily.

Jeff Okudah is good at saying what he means even if it means talking in code. I do not believe Okudah was taking a pot-shot at form Detroit Lions coaches, as much as he was explaining why he struggled despite being top 5 talent.

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 27: Cornerback Jeff Okudah #30 of the Detroit Lions in the NFL game Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. The Lions defeated the Cardinals 26-23. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Jeff Okudah was recently asked about the new Lions coaching staff specifically new defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant.

“Within the first couple of meetings, I was just picking up so much things that I thought to myself, ‘It just would have been nice to have these tools in my toolbox in my rookie year, Looking at the film and breaking down how the offense is trying to attack. That’s what I try to do every single day going into the game plan. So just having the tools that (Aubrey Pleasant) has put in my toolbox, it’s like I’m seeing film from a whole new perspective, I’m seeing the game completely different. That’s one thing that has me really excited going into my second year.”

On the surface it is a harmless quote. A deeper look is a rather damning blow to former Lions head coach Matt Patricia and his coaching staff. Okudah in essence pointed out that film study was never part of Lions game day preparation.

CLEVELAND, OH – SEPTEMBER 14, 2014: Assistant defensive backs coach Aaron Glenn of the Cleveland Browns celebrates a game winning field goal by kicker Billy Cundiff #8 after a game against the New Orleans Saints on September 14, 2014 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won 26-24. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)

Many NFL experts have singled out Jeff Okudah as a player that will have a bounce-back season. Highly regarded Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn also has faith in Okudah who will be entering his second NFL season.

This is not a finger point at former Detroit Lions coaches! This is just a look at part of what went so wrong during that era of Lions football and how there could be hope with the new Lions coaching staff.

Day two of the 2021 NFL Draft showed the Detroit Lions new front office gets it

The Detroit Lions media and fan base are getting an up close look at just what made Lions General Manager Brad Holmes so valuable to the Los Angeles Rams. Holmes helped build the Rams into an NFC contender through a very good eye for talent and understanding how he wanted the Rams to look. The Detroit Lions are in a full rebuild and Holmes and the rest of the Lions front office have wasted no time in adding some key pieces for the teams future.

As of right now the Detroit Lions have a top five draft, this only after day 2 of the NFL Draft. When was the last time that happened you asked? 1988. Unless you live under a shoe you already know the Detroit Lions drafted offensive tackle Penei Sewell in the first round. A generational talent.

SEATTLE, WA – NOVEMBER 29: Washington Huskies defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike (95) walks up to the line of scrimmage before a play in the 112th Apple Cup between the Washington Huskies and the Washington State Cougars on Friday, November 29, 2019 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, WA. (Photo by Christopher Mast/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Day two saw Brad Holmes and the rest of the Lions front office adding even more teeth (pun and no pun intended) to the rebuilding Lions roster. With the second round draft pick Brad Holmes and the Lions selected defensive linemen  Levi Onwuzurike from the Washington Huskies. In the third round another defensive lineman from N. C. State Alim McNeill also in the third round cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu out of the University of Syracuse.

No skilled players draft in the first 3 rounds by the Lions. I am speechless. In a good way. Meaning that Brad Holmes and Co. are building the Detroit roster the proper way. Lions fans on social media for the most part are happy with the draft thus far. Some are not.

TALLAHASSEE, FL – OCTOBER 26: Safety Ifeatu Melifonwu #23 of the Syracuse Orange during the game against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium on Bobby Bowden Field on October 26, 2019 in Tallahassee, Florida. The Seminoles defeated the Orange 35 to 17. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

To the fans that are not happy with the Lions draft through round 3, I say this. In a rebuild it is far more important to build the nucleus of the roster than it is to add skill players. Games are one and lost in the trenches. If the offensive line is doing their job then it will generate success. If the defensive line is doing their job it will give the linebackers and secondary a chance to shine thus generating more success.

The Detroit Lions will not win many games in 2021. That is alright. Brad Homes is setting the organization to win in a year or two from now. With a draft like this fans should be excited for the future.

The Detroit Lions draft offensive tackle Penei Sewell

They did it! No really. The Detroit Lions drafted a foundational player. Penei Sewell from the University of Oregon, an offensive tackle. In his first draft as Lions general manager, Brad Holmes absolutely nailed the draft pick. The Detroit Lions got a premier offensive linemen and a generational player. It is refreshing to actually see the Lions draft a player who is as gifted a Sewell.

Through the first six draft picks in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft it seemed as if Penei Sewell could be there when the Detroit Lions picked at #7. When the Lions were on the clock, not only was Sewell still on the board but so were other players that certainly would have and could have helped the Lions.

LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 02: Oregon Ducks offensive lineman Penei Sewell (58) during a college football game between the Oregon Ducks and the USC Trojans on November 02, 2019, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

What made Penei Sewell not only the right pick for the Lions but also the only pick that made sense, is that the Oregon product is the best tackle to come out of college in a long time. Let’s take a look at what makes Sewell so good.

For starters Sewell, has an elite frame for an offensive tackle, build and speed and power are a plus. Down after down Sewell explosively springs out of his stance to gain ground with above average footwork, excellent balance and weight distribution as a pass protector and run blocker with special ability to recover from compromising positions.

In other words Penei Sewell is the total package. He is a tackle who just does not come around everyday or every NFL Draft. Many football experts, broadcasters and media members believed Sewell was the best player in college football. They may have been right.

For a team like the Detroit Lions who are in a full blown rebuild drafting a player like Penei Sewell is a very good start. Not only that but Brad Holmes has really bucked Lions history by not drafting a skilled player or a one year wonder.

CLEVELAND, OHIO – APRIL 29: A Detroit Lions fan holds a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after the Lions selected Penei Sewell with the seventh pick during round one of the 2021 NFL Draft at the Great Lakes Science Center on April 29, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Detroit Lions fans and beat writers will get a better look at the vision Holmes has for the Lions when the 2021 NFL Draft resumes with rounds 2-3 today and then the rest of the draft.

Former Detroit Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky pleads with the Detroit Lions not to make the same mistake

Former Detroit Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky had some rather poignant remarks regarding his former team. Orlovsky’s plea? For current Lions general manager Brad Holmes to not repeat the same mistakes made by the last few Lions GM’s. Dan Orlovsky does not want the Detroit Lions to take a skilled player (quarterback, running back, wide receiver, linebacker) in the first round.

DETROIT, MI – SEPTEMBER 18: Dan Orlovsky #8 of the Detroit Lions warms up prior to the game between the Detroit Lions and the Tennessee Titans at Ford Field on September 18, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)

You may recall just a few days ago, I made a similar statement that Dan Orlovsky (current ESPN analyst) made yesterday via social media. It is somewhat surreal that a former NFL player and current analyst would echo what I had written.

That said, it is a drum that I am going to beat up unto the 2021 NFL Draft. Orlovsky is dead right! No, zero, zilch, NFL team has ever had success building it’s roster by drafting skilled players in the first round.

If a team does draft a skilled player it is because they feel the offensive line and defensive line are set. That is not the case in Detroit. The right side of the Lions offensive line is currently a mess. The defensive line is not a whole lot better.

Again, IF Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell do in fact believe quarterback Jared Goff is the long-term solution then the team must build around him. Not behind him (running back) not out to the sides of him (wide receivers/ tight end.) But right in front of him, namely the right side of the offensive line.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – DECEMBER 20: A helmet of the Detroit Lions rests on the sideline during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on December 20, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

It is nice to know that someone else out there feels the same way about how to build an NFL roster that I do. Again former NFL head coach and NFL Hall of Famer Bill Parcells established this philosophy  and enjoyed a lot of success.

It is easy to get caught up in the flash and glitz and sexyness  of skilled players. It is a much better position to be in when teams choose a bit more wisely and build both the offensive and defensive lines.

Sifting through what the Detroit Lions should do at #7

NFL Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells had a drafting philosophy that lead to many wins including Super Bowl wins. So what was this philosophy that also had a winning formula to it? Parcells believed with first round draft picks that an organization either take an offensive linemen or defensive linemen. I other words build your lines. Not a skilled position player such as quarterback, running back or wide receiver. Again, Bill Parcells won an awful lot of games taking this route.

CANTON, OH – AUGUST 3: Former head coach Bill Parcells poses with his Hall of Fame bust during the NFL Class of 2013 Enshrinement Ceremony at Fawcett Stadium on Aug. 3, 2013 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Bill Parcells once said that if he built his offensive line correctly he could could get any “Joe Blow” to play quarterback and he was going to win a lot of games. During his coaching career, Parcells did win a lot of games and do you know what? He did not coach a Hall of Fame quarterback.

What is the lesson in all of this? The 2021 NFL Draft is fast approaching. This years draft boasts of some of the best offensive tackles that have come out of college in a long time. The Detroit Lions who currently sit at #7 overall in the first round just so happen to greatly need to improve the right side of the offensive line at guard and you guessed it, right tackle.

I am not going to toss around names of possible players the Detroit Lions should look at. This write-up is solely focused on team need and drafting philosophy. It is and has become more and more clear the Detroit Lions view quarterback Jared Goff as the long-term signal caller.

If that is indeed the case then Lions general manager Brad Holmes, needs to build around Goff. What better way to illustrate to player, fans and media than to surround the starting quarterback with an offensive line that can protect both in the pass and run game?

NEW YORK – APRIL 26: A general view shows the stage during the during the 2008 NFL Draft on April 26, 2008 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

With holes a plenty up and down the Detroit Lions roster, the team needs to key in on what to address in this years draft. There are far to many holes to address in one draft.

If I am in the Detroit Lions front office, then I would be adamant the team takes a long hard look at Bill Parcells winning draft philosophy.

Why Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith makes sense for the Detroit Lions

Gone from the Detroit Lions roster is pretty much all the wide receivers from the past few seasons. In with the new. Some players signed during free agency will add much needed speed, but by and large the Detroit Lions need to remake the receiver group from the draft. The Lions currently hold the #7 overall draft pick. A player who in my opinion would go a long way in retooling the downfield attack is former Alabama Crimson Tide receiver DeVonta Smith.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JANUARY 05: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY through Tuesday, January 12, 2021. Approval by the Heisman Trust will be needed for any usage thereafter or any Commercial usage requests at any point.) Wide receiver DeVonta Smith of the Alabama Crimson Tide poses with the Heisman Memorial Trophy on January 05, 2021 in New York, New York. (Photo by Kent Gidley/Heisman Trophy Trust via Getty Images)

Heisman Trophy Winner DeVonta Smith is not the biggest wide receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft. But that is just fine. He may be among the fastest and also Smith contains some intangibles that may prove to be too much for the Detroit Lions to pass up.

During the COVID shortened college football season, Smith put up some eye popping numbers. Smith’s numbers and talent has made him a top 10 prospect, with 117 receptions for 1,856 yards and a total of 24 touchdowns in 13 games  and lead the country in 20+ yard targets in becoming the first wide receiver since Michigan Wolverines, Desmond Howard (1991) in winning the Heisman Trophy.

Standing 6 foot 1 inch, DeVonta Smith is not over imposing. Once the ball is snapped however Smith shows elite skill. Not only did Smith win the Heisman but he was also named the MVP of the Alabama offense.

For a team looking to build a roster and team into a playoff contending franchise, Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes should give drafting DeVonta Smith serious consideration.

Smith can be a game breaking player and give real life to the Detroit Lions passing attack. Sure the Lions have holes aplenty all over the current roster. One draft will not and can not fix that. But for a franchise looking to build a team with speed. DeVonta Smith would be a next to perfect fit.