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Thursday open thread: Who will be the Detroit Lions’ best defensive player in 2021?

Who will help turn around this defense in 2021?

NFL: SEP 13 Bears at Lions Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

If head coach Dan Campbell is going to turn this thing around, he’s going to have to start with the Detroit Lions’ defense. It’s a unit that hasn’t finished in the top 10 of the league since their feared 2014 crew, and Campbell is inheriting a team that allowed more points than any other team in 2020.

That being said, there are some players on the squad that could help mount a turnaround. Last year’s team defensive MVP, Romeo Okwara, returns after a 10-sack season. Jeff Okudah is coming off a disappointing rookie season, but with a new coaching staff and a fresh start, 2021 could be the year the third overall pick starts to showcase the talents we saw in college. Throw in a (hopefully) healthy Trey Flowers and a veteran addition in Michael Brockers, and there’s at least a theoretical core to this defense.

So today’s Question of the Day is:

Who will be the Lions’ defensive player of the year in 2021?

My answer: I’m just going to put this one fully in the “blind faith” category and say Jeff Okudah. I’m not going to pretend like there were many—if any—promising signs to take from his rookie season. There simply wasn’t much there.

But I’m not willing to accept that everything we saw at Ohio State was a lie. Cornerback is a tough position to play out of the gate, and when you’re getting no help from everyone around you, and the players look like they don’t even know what they’re supposed to be doing, I’m willing to give a complete mulligan to Okudah’s rookie season.

Now the Lions have a coaching staff that includes defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, who has worked with Okudah before. Glenn and defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant both have stellar records of coaching up a young secondary, so if there’s a staff that will resonate with Okudah, it’s this one.

I’m not going to put numbers on Okudah’s second season, but by December it will be obvious why Detroit spent the third overall pick on him last year.

Your turn.

Poll

Who will be the Lions’ Defensive Player of the Year in 2021?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    Romeo Okwara
    (267 votes)
  • 12%
    Jeff Okudah
    (115 votes)
  • 19%
    Trey Flowers
    (170 votes)
  • 16%
    Michael Brockers
    (144 votes)
  • 8%
    Tracy Walker
    (71 votes)
  • 13%
    Other
    (118 votes)
885 votes total Vote Now