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Saturday open thread: Which young Lions player is most important to future success?

It’s an easier answer than you think.

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Down the stretch of the Lions 2020 season, what made the games worth watching was the emergence of Detroit’s youthful talent. Without Kenny Golladay, the Lions offense was flush with opportunities to produce, and players like T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift took full advantage of the chances.

As far as other impressive performances, Detroit’s found a career-long situation in the middle of the offensive front. Along that offensive line, center Frank Ragnow had an incredible 2020 season, earning a Second-Team All-Pro nod in the process for his consistently excellent play as the anchor of Detroit’s o-line.

Of course, the other outstanding performance this season came from Ragnow’s fellow Second-Team All-Pro winner—punter Jack Fox. Fox finished with a 44.8-yard net punting average, a close second in the league to Denver’s Jake Bailey (45.6). Fox’s mark, although good for best in Lions history, also places him third-best in NFL history.

With all of this top-end talent surely part of the Lions foreseeable future, which player is key to Detroit’s future success? That brings us to today’s question of the day...

Which young Lions player is most important to future success?

The Detroit Lions haven’t nailed down the running back position for the better part of two decades, but finally having a solution to that problem could have emerged in the twilight of the 2020 NFL season.

D’Andre Swift came to Detroit and fans held high expectations for the former Georgia Bulldog after the Lions selected him with the 33rd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. After all, Detroit was just two seasons removed moving up in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft to select running back Kerryon Johnson, and if it weren’t for injuries in both of his first two seasons, Johnson showed all the promise of a three-down back in today’s NFL.

But Swift was brought here for a reason and that reason was to replace Kerryon Johnson. We could have talked ourselves into the idea of them being complementary backs to one another—the proverbial thunder and lighting combination—but the patience for a running back to be healthy is remarkably short in the NFL. Swift provided the juice of a healthy and able runner, and the team knew it needed to search for another solution.

The good about Swift far outweighs the bad, and as long as he can be healthy and dependable, he’ll be a mainstay as not only part of whatever backfield the Lions piece together, but as a feature in all aspects of the offensive gameplan.

Your turn.

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.