Our 2017 roster review will reexamine the Lions’ roster and how it played out last season. We’ll take a look at expectations, performance and potential role in the future.
Today, we continue our discussion with Detroit Lions linebacker Nick Bellore.
Expectations before 2017
Shortly after the dust settled on the 2017 NFL Draft, the Lions were still invested in improving a linebacker corps that lacked any sort of depth. In the draft, Detroit added Jarrad Davis, who would presumably be the team’s starting middle linebacker, and Jalen Reeves-Maybin. The Lions also added Paul Worrilow in the early stages of free agency, and added him at a price point that would suggest he would earn a healthy amount of playing time.
Bellore cut his teeth in the league with the New York Jets for the first four seasons of his playing career, mainly contributing on special teams. He even made the 2014 Pro Football Focus All-Pro Special Teams roster for his work on the kick coverage unit. His next stop in San Francisco as a member of the 49ers saw him make the leap to starter when NaVorro Bowman went down with a torn Achilles.
So the addition of Bellore to Detroit’s roster seemed to make sense for a team that at least had an idea, or a plan in place for what their linebacker unit was going to look like on game day. Bellore would make his way onto the roster as a special teams player, something Bob Quinn requires out of the talent at the bottom of the roster, and should he be needed in a pinch, the Lions could call his number to play snaps on defense.
Actual role in 2017
2017 stats: 13 games (2 starts): 5 tackles; 1 reception, 1 yard, 1 receiving touchdown
PFF Grade: 65.6
Bellore’s season resembled what many expected from the special teams contributor, logging two spot starts in Week 3 and Week 4 where he played a total of 35 and 42 snaps respectively.
Everything was going according to expectations until he became the team’s de facto fullback, a position that was thought to be expunged from the playbook when the team cut ties with Michael Burton. In Week 13’s matchup with the Baltimore Ravens, Bellore caught the first touchdown pass of his professional career and brought the game within a single score in the early stages of the fourth quarter.
Outlook for 2018
Contract status: Unrestricted free agent
Heading into 2018, the Lions have some decisions to make on the defensive side of the ball, but linebacker isn’t the pressing need it was a year ago. Bellore, who will be 29 by the start of next season, could be a viable depth option considering he’ll come cheap and has the ability to contribute on special teams.
Does Nick Bellore return to the Lions in 2018?
This poll is closed
Previously: DE Dwight Freeney, LB Tahir Whitehead , DE Ezekiel Ansah, S Tavon Wilson, CB Nevin Lawson, LS Don Muhlbach, LB Paul Worrilow, WR TJ Jones, TE Darren Fells, OT Greg Robinson, DT Jordan Hill, CB DJ Hayden, S Don Carey