Happy Week 1 of the regular season, everybody! The Detroit Lions will kick off their first regular season practice on Monday, and that means it’s time to get serious about our 2018 season preview. This week, we’ll be featuring predictions from all of our staff, get into our breakdown of the New York Jets, and, of course, welcome the return of our “On Paper” previews.
To kick things off, we want to bring some optimism to the group. It’s been a rough preseason, and the Lions made some unpopular decisions with their roster cuts this past weekend. As a result, morale seems to be pretty down right now.
So with that in mind, today’s Question of the Day is:
Who will be the Lions’ breakout players in 2018?
My answer: Devon Kennard.
In his four years with the Giants, Kennard wasn’t a bad player, but he was far from an integral piece for New York. The Giants moved him all around the defensive front, and couldn’t seem to find a specific role for him. As a result, he’s never finished a season with more than 4.5 sacks or 61 tackles, and the team decided not to re-sign him this year.
I think Kennard is primed to set personal records all over the place with the Lions. As the starting left defensive end/SAM linebacker, Kennard is going to be an integral piece of this defense, both at setting the edge on the left side of the defense and bringing some heat on passing downs.
We saw flashes of it in the preseason, as Kennard was one of the few players that was actually responsible for some quarterback pressures. Going up against team’s right tackles, Kennard should have the opportunity to touch double digit sacks. I wouldn’t expect quite that much from him, but I think he’s definitely primed for an 8-9 sack season, which would be huge. The Lions haven’t had an edge rusher not named Ezekiel Ansah tally more than 8.0 sacks since Cliff Avril in 2012. Now is Kennard’s time.