The Detroit Lions were full of surprises in 2016, both positive and negative. Plenty of players failed to meet expectations, while seemingly just as many exceeded them. Just take a player like Tyrunn Walker. Lions fans only saw a flash of him in 2015, but expected him to break out into a huge starting role after his full recovery from a broken leg. Instead, Walker only started eight games in 2016, was a healthy scratch against the Jaguars and finished 15th on the team in tackles.
However, there were pleasant surprises along the way. So today’s Question of the Day is:
Who was the Lions’ most pleasant surprise in 2016?
My answer: Taylor Decker. When Decker was drafted, there were questions about his ability to pass protect, leading many—myself included—to believe that he was headed to right tackle. Not only did Decker play every single offensive snap of his rookie year at left tackle, but he played at an above average level. The Lions’ adjusted sack rate in 2016 was 6.1 percent, down from their 6.9 percent the previous year. Decker’s play has a big part of that. He ranked 23rd of 81 offensive tackles according to Pro Football Focus, which is much higher than even the most optimistic of projections for the rookie. If there’s a reason to be hopeful about the Lions going forward, it’s that they may have finally nailed down their franchise left tackle.