Back in April when Ernie Sims was traded to Philadelphia, Lions fans were left scratching their head a bit over who would step in to replace him. While Zack Follett was next in line on paper, many fans were understandably unsure of that decision because his experience in the NFL was mainly limited to special teams. While the potential was definitely there, not everyone was on the bandwagon for Follett to be a starter in only year two of his career.
Looking back, the reason why the Lions were able to part ways with Sims and move forward with Follett is because they have so much confidence in him. It's certainly true that his experience as a linebacker in the NFL is limited, but Follett appears to be a quick learner and spent this offseason working hard to get ready to be a starter. That drive and determination has paid off, as Jim Schwartz really likes what he sees in Follett. In fact, this is what Schwartz had to say about the Pain Train on Twitter earlier this afternoon:
Since we have given Zack Follett the chance to compete for a starting spot, he has not disappointed us. We released him after a poor camp last year, but a light came on when we brought him back onto the practice squad. It got to the point where we wanted him on special teams, then we wanted to get him involved in def schemes & packages. It was all him. He's done a good job in the offseason program and he's continuing to improve.
With a seventh-round pick, that is really the type of progression you hope to see. Start out on the practice squad, then develop enough to get a spot on the 53-man roster and play some special teams. Then, by the end of the season, get on the field at your position and show coaches your potential. After spending the offseason perfecting your craft, head into training camp ready to compete for a starting spot. For Follett, that is exactly what happened, and you can tell that Schwartz is excited about his continued progression.