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2016 Detroit Lions POD Awards: Breakout Player of the Year

Which Lions player had a breakout performance in 2016?

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Next up for the 2016 Detroit Lions POD Awards is the category for Detroit Lions Breakout Player of the Year. Here are the nominees:

Kerry Hyder

2016 was the season that Hyder finally put all of that preseason hype into real on-field production. Hyder wasn’t even expected to make the team this season, but after another successful preseason, he justified a spot on the final 53-man roster. When Ezekiel Ansah went down with an injury early in the season, Hyder proved to the coaching staff that they made the right decision in keeping him around. Hyder, who had just a single appearance in a game in 2015, played in all 16 last season and tallied 8.0 sacks.

Travis Swanson

Aside from one odd analyst, everyone believed the drafting of Graham Glasgow spelled the eventual end to Travis Swanson, who had been a severe disappointment in his first two years as the Lions’ starting center. Swanson entered the season as the team’s starting center, but everyone assumed it was only a matter of time before Glasgow took over. But then Swanson shocked everyone. He not only kept his job as a starter, but thrived at it, becoming Detroit’s most consistent lineman of 2016. Sadly a nasty concussion ended his season in Week 13, and the Lions offensive line took a notable hit with his absence.

Eric Ebron

Ebron’s 2016 season ended with a whimper, after dropping some key catches in crucial games down the stretch, but that tainted what was an otherwise outstanding season for the Lions young tight end. Ebron finished 10th in receiving yards and attempts in the NFL, and gained 174 more yards than last season, despite playing in one fewer game. He had nine receptions of 20+ yards in 2016 after having just six total in his previous two years. While it may not have been the extreme jump many were hoping for in 2016, Ebron certainly took his game to a new level.

Taylor Decker

Expectations were fairly low for Decker even after he was drafted with the Lions’ first-round draft pick. Decker was lined up to be Detroit’s right tackle, and because rookie tackles tend to struggle, many were expecting an up-and-down season. Instead, Decker played in every single snap at left tackle and performed well above average. He wasn’t perfect, but the Lions appear to have their franchise left tackle locked up for the foreseeable future, and no one saw Detroit coming to that conclusion so quickly.

Graham Glasgow

Glasgow wasn’t really expected to contribute in 2016 unless Swanson got injured or played horribly. Instead, Glasgow was the Lions’ utility guy, first seeing action when Laken Tomlinson’s reign at left guard had to be put to an end. Glasgow ended up starting 11 games in 2016: seven at guard, four at center. Glasgow versatility gives the Lions options going forward with an offensive line that could see some changes this offseason.

Honorable mention: He received no nominations, but Tavon Wilson wasn’t even expected to be the starting strong safety. He beat Rafael Bush for the job, and played well above average in 2016.

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