The Detroit Lions and a successful pass rush go together like oil and water.
Ever since head coach Matt Patricia stepped into Allen Park it seems like a successful and consistent pass rush has not been a priority, and it shows on the field. Over the past two seasons, the Lions only have 71 sacks—the seventh-fewest in the NFL.
However, change could be on the horizon. Last year, the Lions went out and spent $90 million on Trey Flowers. This year, the Lions released their starting jack linebacker and drafted one with their third-round pick.
Will there finally be a pass rush in Detroit? Here’s our 2020 training camp preview of the Lions’ edge defenders.
Roster locks: Trey Flowers, Romeo Okwara, Julian Okwara, Austin Bryant
On the bubble: N/A
Long shot: Jonathan Wynn, Anthony Pittman
Key departures: Devon Kennard
Who will start at Jack?
The Lions drafted two jack linebackers in back-to-back drafts. 2019 fourth-round pick Austin Bryant barely got his feet wet after suffering a training camp injury that caused an early stint on the injured reserve list.
This year, the Lions drafted Julian Okwara with their first third-round pick. Okwara, himself, is coming off an injured 2019 season, but prior to the leg injury he was considered a potential first-round talent.
Those two will likely split some time as the jack linebacker, along with versatile veteran Jamie Collins Sr.
Can the Lions edge rushers generate some pass rush finally?
Trey Flowers was the only Lions edge defender that played reasonably well last season. And while the Lions went through the process of releasing Devon Kennard and replacing him with a third-round pick, Detroit’s pass rush remains only in theory right now.
A changed defensive tackle roster could help, too, but only if that’s an actual improvement in talent—which is hard to see on paper.
In terms of roster spots, there really isn’t much competition here. The Okwara brothers, Austin Bryant and Trey Flowers are the guys. The biggest question is who starts on Day 1 at jack linebacker. My instinct tells me they may start Jamie Collins Sr. there just as a placeholder while the young guys settle in. Hopefully, it won’t be for long, though, as Collins is best served as an inside linebacker.