With every passing day we get closer and closer to the 2017 NFL regular season. And with every passing day also comes more and more new questions. Today we ponder who could be the Detroit Lions’ secret weapon in 2017?
To figure that out, we first have to figure out exactly what makes a secret weapon a secret weapon. In my opinion, it’s a player that is often forgot about or isn’t known at all. Last year it had to be Kerry Hyder. The defensive end was a relatively unknown player who went undrafted in 2014 and did not make the Jets roster in 2014. He wound up leading the team in sacks and tackles for loss last year.
With that in mind, I started to wonder who I would pick to be the Lions’ secret weapon for 2017. My choice came to me pretty quickly, but we wanted to see what some others thought. So we scoured the web and we found some analysts’ thoughts on the subject. We also sought the opinions of Lions fans themselves. Let’s start with the analysts.
Pro Football Focus: Kerry Hyder
Speak of the devil, Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson recently put out an article on the secret superstar for each team. Here’s what Monson had to say on Hyder.
“Hyder earned himself a respectable reputation thanks to tallying eight sacks last season, but his pass rush was much more than that, and he recorded a total of 51 pressures. Hyder’s pass-rush productivity score of 10.5 was the same as Cameron Jordan and he recorded more pressure than multiple players with significantly more pass-rushing snaps.”
Sam is right. Hyder really showed up in 2016, and in some ways, I can see how anyone can peg Hyder to be 2017’s secret weapon. He’s not exactly a household name at this point.
Here’s where I become concerned with Hyder. How much of what Kerry did in 2016 was a fluke? I like the player, and I think he can be an important player for the Lions going forward, but can Hyder duplicate his success or build upon it? I just don’t know if he’s a flash in the pan at this point. For that reason, I can’t call him the secret weapon right now.
Bleacher Report: A’Shawn Robinson
Sean Tomlinson of Bleacher Report put out his own version of this story last week. He picked every teams secret weapon. His pick was A’Shawn Robinson. Here’s what he had to say about Robinson.
“Detroit Lions defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson needed time to develop during his rookie season in 2016 and didn't see the field much. Now that lack of playing time has given him a high ceiling for 2017.
Robinson did more than just capitalize on his few opportunities as a rookie while playing only 39.8 percent of the Lions' defensive snaps. He led the league in a category that feels overlooked at times but is a critical measure of how often a pass-rusher gets pressure and in turn has the instincts to react to the play.
Robinson played just 408 snaps in 2016, and yet he led all interior defenders with seven batted passes, per PFF. He swatted one more ball than the Dolphins' Ndamukong Suh, who played 973 snaps.”
He’s not wrong about Robinson having a breakout season. He’s easily my pick to have a large impact on the Lions defense in 2017. He’s proven to be quite the athletic defensive tackle, and he can put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. He’s only going to get better.
So why is he not my secret weapon? Because he’s no secret. Everyone and their cousin Tracy can see that A’Shawn is an up-and-comer in the NFL. His play his rookie year surprised no one. His play in 2017 won’t either. Look for A’Shawn to have a big year and put his name on an even larger map.
What about the fans?
Let’s see what they thought.
Is Jace Billingsley too big now?— The Lions Wire (@thelionswire) July 11, 2017
Dark Lion: Golladay.— Brandon Kerr (@SFHCommissioner) July 11, 2017
Cornelius Washington, was sneaky good pickup in FA. On offense Darren Fells another big redzone target , underrated as a receiver— JonJon (@LionsFan4Everr) July 11, 2017
TE @Mikeey___ from Toledo. Book it.— Anthony Bellino (@BellinoNBC) July 11, 2017
Alright let’s address some these choices, starting with Jace Billingsley. Jace is like Zack Morris when it comes to the Pride Of Detroit. There’s no secret that we have a little bit of a crush on the guy. Due to that being a conflict of interest, we can’t name him the secret weapon. Not to mention we’re not sure how much time he’s really going to get on the field. The Lions won’t let us decide.
I’m a fan of Kenny Golladay. I like what this kid can bring to the table. The only issue is that in reality, I’m a fan of the theory of Kenny Golladay. I have no idea whether this kid pans out or not.
Cornelius Washington. I like Cornelius because he gives me an excuse to put this video in this article.
I do like the signing. I admit that it’s a sneaky good one and all that, but I have to see what he can do on the field in Detroit first.
I like Michael Roberts. He is going to be a big part of the team if he can in fact be what the Lions hope he can be. Sadly, this is another example of liking the theory of a player.
My Pick: Nevin Lawson
I’m sure nobody saw this coming. I didn't see this coming when I decided to take this assignment. I started thinking about what player has shown drastic improvement and could really have a breakout year in 2017. Then I started thinking about which of those players on the Lions that everyone has completely forgotten about.
Nevin was who jumped into my mind. Why? Because Nevin has been sneaky good as of late. He struggled in the early going of his career, like any player would, but in 2016, he really began to show what he could do, and analysts started to notice. Pro Football Focus has been especially high on Lawson:
Nevin Lawson stepped his game up in a big way last year pic.twitter.com/fGyfZZWT8l— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) July 4, 2017
These cornerbacks just don't give up much after the catch. pic.twitter.com/XYgKjkK1yI— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 24, 2017
Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson (@P2) was the most-avoided cornerback in the NFL last season. pic.twitter.com/foSOebCqn9— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 12, 2017
As you can see, Lawson put in some serious work in 2016. And for some odd reason, we all forgot he existed and assumed that Teez Tabor would be the No. 2 corner. This is beginning to look like a major oversight on the part of Lions fans.
If Lawson can put up numbers like he did in 2016, and make the plays that have eluded him and the Lions, you could be seeing quite the pair of corners in the Lions secondary in 2017. And as we know now, nobody would ever see it coming. For these reasons, I declare Nevin Lawson as the Lions secret weapon in 2017.
Who do you think will be the Lions’ secret weapon in 2017?
This poll is closed