In preparation for the 2016 Detroit Lions season, we polled the Pride Of Detroit staff on their predictions for the Lions season. Next up, who will be the team’s rookie of the year?
Who will be the Detroit Lions' rookie of the year in 2016?
Kent Lee Platte
Since this was a trenches and depth draft, there won't be much fanfare for the rookies. Taylor Decker should get the Lions rookie of the year honors, though if he's forced into action it may end up being Joe Dahl due to his late round status and low expectations for the line.
I'm betting A'Shawn Robinson will hold this distinction. We've already seen flashes from Robinson in the preseason. As the regular season rolls on, look for his role to get bigger and bigger. By season’s end, he should be a full-fledged starter on this line.
I think the defensive line will have a good season, led by Ziggy and aided by a bounce-back season from Haloti Ngata. Combining this with Robinson's raw size and ability, the rookie will have the chance to be a heavy contributor in his first season.
We haven't seen much of the second-round pick in preseason action but he earned some first-team reps in the last game and has looked solid whenever he is on the field. Between Tyrunn Walker's injury last year and Haloti Ngata's age, I think Robinson has a chance to move into a starting job at some point this year, even if it's under less-than-ideal circumstances. I'm banking on him being so good that he doesn't give it up.
If Matthew Stafford ends up taking fewer sacks this season and the Lions can run the ball a little bit, the rookie of the year will be Taylor Decker. He's going to have some growing pains, especially against elite pass rushers, but he also should continue to grow throughout the year. I like what A'shawn Robinson brings to the table, but I don't think he's going to flash enough as a rookie to warrant top billing.
One of the interior linemen will get injured for an extended stretch of games, and Dahl will step in and play like a veteran. GOOD JOB JOE DAHL!
If the Lions are going to have a shot at making the playoffs, Taylor Decker needs to play above his weight class. The team made the decision early on to move Riley Reiff, the elder statesman of the bunch, over to the right side and stick Decker at left tackle. Of the three tackles taken ahead of Decker in the 2016 NFL Draft, only Ronnie Stanley of the Baltimore Ravens is getting the same opportunity as Decker to start at left tackle as a rookie. The Lions road to the playoffs is a long one, but it gets a little easier if Taylor Decker performs better than expected.
I expect him to get a good amount of snaps in the early part of the season and maybe eventually start if injuries happen. He's big, damn big and a grown ass man. He will eat.
Boring pick, I know, but there is a limited selection to choose from this year, and I just don't see many rookies getting more playing time than Taylor Decker. Joe Dahl or Miles Killebrew could win a starting job halfway through the year, but that's unlikely at this point. Graham Glasgow is hurt and probably won't play a single snap this year, barring injuries. I could see an argument for Dwayne Washington, but he'd have to wrestle return duties away from Ameer Abdullah and Golden Tate to make any real impact, because we're probably not going to see him much in the backfield this year. Decker is the most logical pick for me.
If all things go according to plan for the Detroit Lions in 2016, they’ll really only get contributions from two rookies: Taylor Decker and A’Shawn Robinson. Offensive tackles notoriously struggle in their rookie years, and at times, Decker is going to make fans question the first-round pick. Robinson, however, won’t be pushed into the limelight right away and will get a good chunk of rotational play. He was quietly dominant in the preseason, and I only expect him to get better.