The NFL season is two months away! For a team that is perennially underperforming with a star quarterback, it could be a winning year, even with multiple holes in the roster. Matt Patrica and Bob Quinn are both on the hot seat and expect a potential playoff push to keep their jobs. However, with the recent transition from Owner Martha Ford to her daughter, Sheila Ford Hamp, there could be change afoot if regardless of the results. The Lion’s have some top talent, where some of their players will have a significant impact on the season. That said, this is the list of players who will have a significant impact on the Detroit Lions’ season.
Make sure to check out all of our other team award predictions here.
MVP: Matthew Stafford
If Stafford can stay healthy all year without any minor injuries – he’s easily a top-seven quarterback and is the difference-maker. However, the coaching staff needs to allow Stafford to sling the ball. He has the potential to throw for 400 to 500 yards a game and keep up with the best offenses in the league. With weapons like T.J. Hockenson, Kenny Golladay, and Marvin Jones, the sky’s the limit for this offense. That said, the success of the team is contingent on Stafford’s play. If he’s average the team will be average, but if he puts together a career year, this could be the year the Lions go deep into playoffs.
Offensive Player: Kenny Golladay
Golladay – with a high performing Stafford – could be a top-five receiver in the league. He’s got the size, route-running ability, and hands to put up monster statistics. Last year, game in and out, he was one of the best receivers in the NFL. Yet it was this inconsistency game to game that prevent his ascendance to the top of the position. Going into his fourth year, fans should expect top have a top receiver in the league on the team.
Defensive Player: Jeffrey Okudah
Okudah over Trey Flowers and others for defensive player of the year? Okudah should be the best defensive player on the team. The argument is based on the competition he faces. The NFC North has primer talent at wide receiver with Davante Adams, Allen Robinson, and Adam Thielen. These matches will show what Okudah can be for the Lions. Okudah will be tested by the end of the season, and fans will have an idea if they drafted a top-five cornerback or if he isn’t what most expected.
Offensive Rookie: Jonah Jackson
Jackson is the offensive rookie fans should pay attention to, largely because he may be a week one starter at right guard. Good news for Lions fans though is Jackson was regarded as one of the more pro-ready offensive linemen in the draft. While it is difficult for rookie offensive linemen to be good year one, Jackson should be able to hold his own and create lanes for the run. Jackson makes this offensive line one of the most underrated in the league.
Defensive Rookie: Julian Okwara
If you followed any of my scouting reports, you’ll know that Okwara was a ‘my guy’ for the draft. He’s a freak of nature with the ability to rush the passer with speed, power, and bend. He’s not the most polished player, and his moves will take some time to develop, but I do believe he will be a starting edge before the end of the season. Fans should expect five to eight sacks with his raw athleticism and power. While he will only be on a rotational snap basis at the beginning of the year, he’ll make an impact on pass rushing downs. On the ESPN depth chart, he’s listed behind his brother, Romeo Okwara. Look for that relationship to assist Julian in hitting the ground running.
Biggest Surprise: Amani Oruwariye
Who? The 2019 fourth-round pick out of Penn State played excellent towards the end of the year. Oruwariye is a physical man to man cornerback and will be able to take on larger receivers. Watching him last year, he only had two starts but played rotational snaps in nine games. In those nine games, he had two interceptions and three passes defended. Overall, fans should be excited about Oruwariye with the flashes of potential he showed last year.
Oruwariye should surprise fans as he should be a full-time starter and a good one at that, by week six. With a shortened offseason, it will take a game or two to gain the coaching staff’s trust. Really the ascent of Oruwariye means that the Lions could have a top corner trio in Okudah, him, and Justin Coleman. This will allow more man to man coverage and in turn more pressure.
Biggest Disappointment: D’Andre Swift
It is no secret, I wasn’t a fan of this pick, but analyzing Swift’s role this year makes me nervous. Swift may not have the opportunity to show his full talent without injury. While Swift is the assumed incumbent starter, he’s going to have to split the workload with Kerryon Johnson – who is talented in his own right. The concern for Swift is usage, and that he may not live up to the second round pick pedigree this year without a large enough workload. At the same time, this isn’t necessarily bad, as this is the first time in a long time where the team has had two talented running backs.
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