Organized Team Activities (OTAs) finally kick off for the Detroit Lions on Monday. It will be the first time the entire team—rookies and all—practice together in actual football drills that have everything other than pads. It will be Matt Patricia’s first set of OTAs as a head coach after a full offseason to prepare for the team.
Here are five storylines to watch over the next three weeks as the Lions continue their offseason program.
While we got highly-manicured videos of T.J. Hockenson catching fingertip balls and Jahlani Tavai running all over the place, this week we’ll get an actual look at them competing in football drills. Will we see what the Lions saw in Tavai during the pre-draft process? Will Hockenson impress? How will Detroit use Will Harris? Where will Amani Oruwariye start in the depth chart at cornerback?
There are a ton of questions with this rookie class and this week we’ll finally begin down the road of getting some answers.
Year 2 Matt Patricia
Last year was a rough year for Patricia, both in terms of the success of the team and his relationship with the public/media. Based on some offseason interviews, it looks like he’s taking a more relaxed approach to his media responsibilities and just looks happier.
Will that comfort cross over to the football field? Now that he has some familiar faces on the roster, will he be able to command more respect and get closer to completing the culture change in Detroit?
2018 Lions’ Draft Class
Last year, Detroit’s rookie draft class showed a lot of promise. The Lions got significant contributions from Frank Ragnow, Kerryon Johnson, Da’Shawn Hand and Tracy Walker. Players often take a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2, and with players like Hand and Walker likely getting more opportunities in 2019, their impact could be even greater this season.
Additionally, be on the lookout for the rest of the 2018 draft class. Nick Bawden and Tyrell Crosby have big opportunities to be contributors this season, which means the Lions could theoretically get production out of their entire 2018 draft class in their collective second seasons.
Darrell Bevell’s Offensive Scheme
We aren’t likely to get a ton of answers about what exactly the Lions offense will look like in 2019, and if we do, we’re unlikely to be able to share it—the Lions have strict rules about sharing formation information with the public. However, this will be our first look at what new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has in mind for this offense.
Will Detroit be utilizing a lot of 12 personnel (one running back, two tight end) sets as advertised? Will this team truly be more devoted to the running game or has that all been overblown? And perhaps most importantly, what will Matthew Stafford’s comfort level be in this offense after a rough season in 2018?
Most of the Detroit Lions’ starting lineup appears to be somewhat set heading into OTAs. One main exception to that is the situation at right guard, which remains up for grabs after T.J. Lang’s release and subsequent retirement.
A few weeks ago, the Lions trotted out Kenny Wiggins in front of the media, suggesting that he may have a leg up on the competition heading into OTAs. But Oday Aboushi is the only interior offensive lineman that has experience in this offense, which may make him the early favorite to win the job.
Of course, there are other candidates that could challenge those two veterans. Second-year offensive lineman Tyrell Crosby could make the transition inside to make a run at the starting lineup. Additionally, high-profile undrafted rookie Beau Benzschawel has a good chance of making the roster, and if he impresses enough, he could make a run at the position.
Undoubtedly, this is the position most up for grabs heading into OTAs.