As we continue to wrap up the 2012 season for the Detroit Lions, let's take a look back at our predictions from before the season. Next up is a look at our predictions for the Lions' Breakout Defensive Player.
Jeremy Reisman | Prediction: Willie Young | Actual pick: Nick Fairley
While my preseason pick, Willie Young, was busy trying out his invisibility cloak for most of the year, Nick Fairley was building on his impressive, but abbreviated, rookie season. Fairley picked up 5.5 sacks in just 13 games, but his biggest impact was made against the run. His 8 tackles for loss were second-best on the team. Picking a first-round draft pick that everyone expected to perform is admittedly cheap for "breakout player," but there's slim pickens on this defense.
Packey | Prediction: Willie Young | Actual pick: Nick Fairley
Willie Young went from a near-unanimous breakout defensive player pick to probably the biggest defensive disappointment. Despite playing in 16 games, he only had 11 tackles and was never really a presence like he was in limited time in his rookie season and the 2012 preseason.
The nice surprise for the Lions defense was Nick Fairley's sophomore campaign, especially coming off a troubled offseason. Fairley had 5.5 sacks after a 1-sack rookie campaign and more than doubled his tackles. He also forced two fumbles and recovered one. Fairley was one of the Lions' few bright spots on a bad defense.
Sean Yuille | Prediction: Willie Young | Actual pick: Nick Fairley
Note to self: Don't predict anybody named Young as a breakout player. Willie Young didn't have the character issues like Titus Young, but his season was equally as disappointing in my mind. Young became a non-factor at defensive end in 2012, recording only 11 tackles and not a single sack. He was anything but a breakout player, especially compared to Nick Fairley, my actual pick for this category. Fairley had 5.5 sacks in only 13 games and was quite dominant at times. He looks like a future star at defensive tackle next to Ndamukong Suh.
TuffLynx | Prediction: Bill Bentley | Actual pick: Nick Fairley
After watching Bentley in the preseason, I was convinced he was going to emerge to be a very good cornerback this season. Then he got hurt and all that never happened. I still think Bentley will be a good cornerback. He just managed to make me look a bit crazy this season. Of course, he didn't need much help there anyway. The Lions will need Bentley next season, and I hope my prediction still pans out, just a year late.
POD readers | Prediction: Willie Young
58 percent of the 716 votes in our poll were for Young. Bentley received 32 percent of the votes, with the rest going to the "somebody else" category.