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2018 Detroit Lions predictions: Rookie of the Year

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Who will be the Lions’ best rookie in 2018?

NFL: Detroit Lions at Oakland Raiders Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

As Monday night draws closer, our staff here is ready to get into the meat of our season predictions.

If there was one positive thing to come from the Detroit Lions’ preseason, it was the play of their rookies. It’s still incredibly early, but the Lions have gotten positive returns on their first, second and fourth and fifth-round picks.

That’s a bit relieving since there has been a lot of concern about Bob Quinn’s 2017 draft class.

So keeping that in mind, the Pride of Detroit staff gave their picks for the 2018 Detroit Lions Rookie of the Year. Here are the results.

Kellie Rowe

A predictable pick, Kerryon Johnson is poised to help reshape the Lions less-than-stellar rushing offense this season. The explosive rookie and former Auburn workhorse gave a commendable preseason performance, rushing 15 times for 68 yards for a 4.5 yard average. We don’t know exactly how the Lions plan to use Johnson, but it’s apparent he’ll be a vital component of this new-look running game. Though he’ll be fighting for touches, I’m excited to watch his development as the season progresses. Johnson has the opportunity to make a real difference on a team with the league’s worst running offense—nowhere to go but up, amirite? I expect Johnson will prove he was worth trading up for in April’s draft and that he’s deserving of the hype.

Levi Blue

I’m sure hoping it’s Kerryon Johnson. As Lions fan’s we’ve suffered the brutality of rushing (or lack thereof) on a weekly basis for years. This preseason, KJ put up 111 total yards on 20 touches. If he can expand on that kind of production into the regular season, our offense can finally get the juice in the backfield that we desperately need. There’s nothing wrong with optimism and I’m going to say it, Kerryon could have the type of year Alvin Kamara or Kareem Hunt had last season. The tools are there. Lastly, if you haven’t seen “Kerryon Johnson: Road to the Pros” get your ass over to YouTube right now. Here, I’ll help:

Kerryon Johnson: Road to the Pros - Part 1
Kerryon Johnson: Road to the Pros - Part 2
Kerryon Johnson: Road to the Pros - Part 3
Kerryon Johnson: Road to the Pros - Part 4

Justin Simon

Give me Ragnow. He’ll be a Day 1 starter and should help anchor the line for the next half decade. Kerryon Johnson could very well take this honor but it’s a crowded backfield and I’m more confident in Ragnow playing significant snaps.

Kent Lee Platte

Kerryon Johnson should be the rookie of the year. If forced to pick a different player, I’m going to go with Da’Shawn Hand. While first-round pick Frank Ragnow is the easier choice and one I feel will play very well to assist Kerryon Johnson to success, I think Hand is the guy that’s going to most outplay his draft position, and thus get an inordinate amount of hype for that play. Hand forced his way into the starting lineup and even pushed third-year supposed breakout candidate A’Shawn Robinson to backup status in just over a month. Johnson and Ragnow will play better, but Hand will contribute far more than expected, so I’m giving him the nod.

Jerry Mallory

I hate to pull a Grant Hill/Jason Kidd co-ROY deal here but I think Ragnow and Johnson will be attached at the hip figuratively and sometimes possibly literally. But I’ll give the slight edge to Frank based on his solid preseason.

Kyle Yost

Kerryon Johnson. The bar is pretty low for Lions running backs, so even a modest season from Johnson will look impressive. Odds are that LeGarrette Blount gets a decent amount of playing time early on, so Johnson’s season-long numbers may be a little subdued. However, the rookie will prove to be the real deal and should provide the closest thing to a balanced attack that the Detroit has ever seen under Matthew Stafford.

Hamza Baccouche

Frank Ragnow

You’re looking for Kerryon Johnson’s name, I know. While I am sold on Johnson, I’ve yet to be sold on the offensive line being capable of paving adequate running lanes for Johnson and I’ll believe it when I see it.

Ragnow will be a big part of that, but I think he will be even more important in the passing game. Ragnow didn’t give up a pressure through his first two games and didn’t budge until he spent much of the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers matched up against Gerald McCoy, one of the best defensive tackles in the league. While a running game would be helpful, too much of Stafford’s time in the pocket is disrupted and defensive coordinators should be afraid of what Stafford can do if Ragnow and the rest of the line can give him a long, clean pocket to work with.

John Whiticar

Frank Ragnow.

Notable defensive linemen in the NFC North:

Kenny Clark
Mike Daniels
Everson Griffen
Akiem Hicks
Danielle Hunter
Linval Joseph
Khalil Mack
Sheldon Richardson
Muhammad Wilkerson

The NFC North has some elite defenses, so Bob Quinn prioritized building an elite offense. The most important addition has been Frank Ragnow. Protecting Stafford is of utmost importance. While I also like the addition of Tyrell Crosby, Ragnow will step in immediately to bolster the offensive line. He was bullied by Gerald McCoy against Tampa Bay, but then again, most offensive linemen are. It was clear that the coaching staff was testing him, since he was moved from left to right guard for that game. Hopefully he learns from that matchup and is able to hold strong against talented defenders.

Mansur Shaheen

Kerryon Johnson. Kerryon might not hit 1,000 yards, or even the 100-yard mark in a single game this season, but if he is an efficient runner than that is all that matters. He will share carries with the likes of Blount and Abdullah throughout the season, making it hard for him to put up volume stats. If he can average 5.0 yards per carry this season, though, then we will finally have the running game we have desperately needed to complement our air attack. He also gets a huge advantage in this category by being the only skill position player we drafted.

Ryan Mathews

Frank Ragnow

After spending like 150 words telling you how it will be easier to quantify Devon Kennard’s impact, I’m going to turn around today and tell you it’s going to be an offensive lineman, not a running back like Kerryon Johnson, who will be the Lions rookie of the year.

Frank Ragnow will do so much for Detroit as he solidifies the interior of the Lions offensive line. He’s going to be a huge factor in keeping their offense on the field as both a pass protector and a run blocker, and anyone who can help keep the defense away from Matthew Stafford—and the Lions defense off the field—has the inside track to being one of the most valuable players on this team.

Mike Payton

It’s going to be Kerryon Johnson. I don’t think we yet realize how good Kerryon is, and I don’t think we’ll realize that for a few weeks after the season starts.

Right now it appears the Lions will be going running back by committee, if you factor in how they played their running backs in the preseason. But Johnson will soon take the lead here. By the season’s end, I think the possibility of the Lions ending both the 100-yard and 1,000-yard rusher droughts s a very good possibility.

Chris Perfett

Kerryon Johnson. Kid has a real chance to bring stability to the running game, maybe even establish it perchance!

Jeremy Reisman

I have a personal code that I will never predict the Lions to have a solid running game until I actually see it happen. I’m hopeful that Kerryon Johnson will be successful, but I am physically unable to imagine an efficient Lions running game that doesn’t involve Barry Sanders.

So I’m going with the dark horse candidate: Da’Shawn Hand. The Lions have already shown a tremendous amount of faith in Hand, and if he can rise to the occasion, he could save Detroit’s defense from themselves.

The 2018 Lions will only go as far as the defense lets them, and if Hand can be the versatile run-stuffer, gap filler he was drafted to be, the entire Lions team could outperform expectations this season.

Poll

Who will be the Lions’ rookie of the year in 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Frank Ragnow
    (164 votes)
  • 41%
    Kerryon Johnson
    (177 votes)
  • 3%
    Tracy Walker
    (14 votes)
  • 15%
    Da’Shawn Hand
    (68 votes)
  • 1%
    Other
    (6 votes)
429 votes total Vote Now