Now that we’re in Year 2 of the Matt Patricia era, expectations are high on defense. Not only did the Lions add a few high-profile players to that side of the ball, but another year under Patricia’s complicated defensive scheme should, theoretically, result in better play from the players that stuck around. They now speak the same language and have a better understanding of what is expected from them and their teammates.
So heading into 2019, which defensive player will stand above the rest? Here are our picks for Detroit Lions Defensive Player of the Year.
Kyle Yost: Trey Flowers
The Lions went all out to get Trey Flowers and did so for good reason. Flowers is the type of pass rusher that has long been lacking in Detroit, and head coach Matt Patricia’s familiarity with the new edge should bring optimism for all fans. The Lions had a great defensive line toward the end of 2018 and will continue that into this season, but getting after the quarterback is still a bit of a question mark. Flowers can go a long way toward answering that uncertainty.
Ryan Mathews: Darius Slay
Picking a defensive MVP for this team is a challenge, but a challenge in the best ways possible. Lions general manager Bob Quinn went out and got Matt Patricia a couple of dynamic players in free agency in Trey Flowers and Justin Coleman. Those two guys fit huge needs for this defense—an edge rusher who creates havoc and a corner to man the slot respectively.
While the additions are going to be under a microscope with all the hype the signings have generated this summer, it’s going to be a familiar face who is this team’s defensive player of the year: Darius Slay.
After taking some licks while transitioning to Patricia’s defense, Slay is in Year 2 and still has yet to work out some kind of extension. Slay’s play will prove the price would have been cheaper had they figured something out this summer.
Mike Payton: Damon Harrison Sr.
Defensively, things are different now. You used to be able to rely on Glover Quin to be the Lions’ veteran voice and leader in the locker room. Now that he’s retired, the team is going to look to Damon Harrison Sr. to be that new defensive leader. Snacks is already an All-Pro caliber player, but this year, he is fully set up to shine and finally get those post-season accolades that have eluded him. He’s surrounded by talented players that will allow him to focus on his job that he’s already good at doing. Look for him to be the Lions’ defensive superstar this year.
Justin Simon: Darius Slay
I think the defense will be much better in their second season under Matt Patricia. The much-improved defensive line should accentuate Slay’s ‘Big Play’ monicker. After a down season last year—by Slay’s standards—I think he will easily end the year as the Lions’ defensive MVP on his way to his third Pro Bowl.
Chris Perfett: Darius Slay
Hard to see another down year for Slay. Of course it could just be that we’ll continue to see everyone throw away from him, but if that’s the case, then that only confirms my view, does it not? This is the best place to be—either way I get to be right. There’s absolutely no way I can be wrong here... unless Slay gives up a bushel of touchdowns. If that happens to be the case, I’ll gladly wander away and face no repercussions whatsoever for a preseason prediction post. You won’t remember this prediction anyway.
Jeremy Reisman: Damon Harrison Sr.
Run the ball, stop the run.
That’s Matt Patricia’s motto in this league, and whether you think that’s outdated or not, that will be this team’s priority. That makes Snacks not only the most important defensive player on the team, he may be the most important player on the entire team.
It will largely be on Snacks to continue to play at a high level and keep the Lions defense in third-and-long situations. Now that the Lions actually have some pass-rushing talent in Mike Daniels and Trey Flowers, Snacks’ impact will be felt even more than last year.
Andrew Kato: Damon Harrison Sr.
NT Damon Harrison will (AGAIN) prove he deserves all the monies. Harrison and company shutting down the inside run completely will force opponents to do high variance things and play out of poor down and distance situations. That will steer some smexy stats to Flowers, Slay, and other members of the defense, but the key piece supporting it all is Harrison.
John Whiticar: Damon Harrison Sr.
Damon Harrison will be the Lions’ defensive MVP in 2019. Nose tackles don’t have a lot of sexy stats. They rarely record interceptions and score touchdowns (here’s looking at you, A’Shawn Robinson). They don’t get that many sacks, compared to the pass-rushing tackles like Aaron Donald.
However, Snacks changed the entire Lions defense last season. You won’t see it by looking at the schedule, but most players on that defense had a significant leap in play when he was acquired from the Giants. The Lions had an incredibly stout run defense last season, which figures to carry over into 2019. The biggest reason for that is Harrison.
Hamza Baccouche: Jarrad Davis
Jarrad Davis, baby. With that being said, I can only hope he’ll be back sooner rather than later following his preseason injury. Davis’ absence would mean Jahlani Tavai gets to learn to play linebacker in the NFL via trial by fire, as our fearless leader Jeremy put it, and that could go either way for Tavai.
For everyone else, that would be bad news as the Lions would be empty on quality linebacker depth. Having Davis around enables a strong, confident veteran presence and an extra body of depth in the linebackers unit, and the Lions really need that. Not to mention, with all the hinting at pass-rushing and new looks that we’ll see from Davis this year, he’ll be all over the field making splash plays and his versatility will play a key role in this defense’s success.
Who will be the Lions’ defensive player of the year?
This poll is closed
Damon Harrison Sr.