While most of use are dead-focused on the 2020 NFL Draft, the truth of the matter is that success for the Detroit Lions in 2020 is much more reliant upon the players they already have. Detroit will likely only get two or three starters out of the draft this year, and those players aren’t likely to come in and immediately be All-Pro players—even whoever the Lions take at three overall (if they stay there).
Much of a team’s success is reliant upon growth and curation of talent. It’s not just picking the right guys, but coaching them up and giving them the opportunity to improve in the NFL. The Lions have a pretty young roster—especially on defense—so improvement is necessary for this team to pull itself out of the basement.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Which Lions player is most likely to improve in 2020?
My answer: There are a lot of quality candidates here. Last year’s first-round pick T.J. Hockenson is the name that jumps out first. Hockenson had a wildly impressive debut in 2019, but his production cooled off significantly after that, and his season disappointingly ended with severe injury. If he’s fully healthy, though, he flashed enough to suggest 2020 could be a breakout year.
Additionally, Jahlani Tavai, last year’s second-round pick, is a candidate to improve drastically. Not only should he have a larger role this year, but now he’s got a veteran like Jamie Collins Sr. to help mentor him and learn the defense quicker.
Ultimately, however, I’m going with Da’Shawn Hand. The Lions defensive tackle had an impressive rookie season in a limited role two years ago. Last year, he was stifled by injuries. Given Detroit’s current situation at defensive tackle, Hand is heading towards a much bigger role in this defense, and I believe he has the talent to take on a the extra snaps. At 24 years old, Hand still has plenty of years ahead of him, but 2020 is crucial for him to prove that his trajectory is still up.