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Detroit Lions season preview: Who will be the team’s defensive MVP in 2017?

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Who will be the most valuable defender on the Lions this season?

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Our Detroit Lions season preview rolls along. After tackling the offense last year, it’s time to move onto the defense. If the Lions want to truly contend in 2017, their defense—which ranked dead last in Football Outsiders’ DVOA last season—is going to need to see some drastic improvement.

The Lions have some centerpieces in place on defense: A few players who aren’t quite superstars, but aren’t exactly ordinary defender either. If a few of them could grow into superstardom this season, that would be absolutely game-changing for a Lions defense that needs to make an impression this year.

So today’s preview question is:

Who will be the Lions’ defensive MVP in 2017?

Alex Reno: Ezekiel Ansah.

To me, there is no question that Ansah is the most valuable player to this defense right now. The entire defensive line is in shambles, and Ansah is the only guy that has experience successfully rushing the passer. If he goes down, or suffers a setback in his recovery, it's going to be another long year, defensively.

Justin Simon: Ezekiel Ansah

Ziggy Ansah has the best shot, simply because he has the opportunity to be near the ball on every play. He's also in a contract year and will be looking to bounce back from an injury-riddled season last year

Kyle Yost: Darius Slay

With weakness up front yet again, the Lions will struggle to put up any sort of pass rush. The more that Darius Slay can do to lock up a team’s best weapon, the less weight will fall on the rest of the defense. Slay still does not get the top-end recognition that other elite corners receive nationally, but a lockdown season could help continue to grow his name.

Andrew Kato: Ezekiel Ansah

Ezekiel Ansah is rested and presumably healed up completely after sitting out the entire preseason. A return to his 2015 form is crucial to the success of the overall defense.

Kent Lee Platte: Darius Slay

Darius Slay is the best player on the defense, but Glover Quin will be the one asked to cover up the most from the pass rush.

Chris Perfett: A’Shawn Robinson

A'Shawn Robinson eats lightning and craps thunder. When A'Shawn goes, he will take this world and nine others with him.

Ryan Mathews: Ezekiel Ansah

He's in a contract season, and he has a ton to prove after a high-ankle sprain sapped him of his effectiveness last year. Of anyone else on this defense, his play will be most critical to the team's success. This defensive line is young, and mostly inexperienced, but if Ansah can get back to his 2015 form and get to the quarterback, the rest of the defense's job becomes that much easier.

Jeremy Reisman: Jarrad Davis

Davis is going to struggle at first, perhaps badly, but I think by the season’s end, he’s going to be the biggest difference between the 2016 Lions and the 2017 Lions. Think of the difference Taylor Decker had on the team last year. At first, he struggled. By the end of the year, he had us all convinced he was Detroit’s franchise left tackle of the future. Of all units from last season, linebacker needed the most improvement. Therefore the Lions’ first-round pick literally provides this team the most value on defense.

Mike Payton: A’Shawn Robinson

I'm taking A'Shawn Robinson. The Lions are going to be in need of a pass rush in 2017. Robinson is set to have a huge breakout season. Normally, I'd go Ansah, but who knows which Ansah the Lions will get?

Poll

Who will be the Lions’ defensive MVP in 2017?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    Ezekiel Ansah
    (103 votes)
  • 21%
    Darius Slay
    (100 votes)
  • 36%
    A’Shawn Robinson
    (169 votes)
  • 14%
    Jarrad Davis
    (68 votes)
  • 5%
    Other
    (26 votes)
466 votes total Vote Now