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Preseason Overreactions: The future of the Detroit Lions is here, but it’s not who you think

The guys coming out of nowhere may be going somewhere

NFL: Detroit Lions at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Who’s ready for some more overreactions? It’s everyone’s favorite part of the preseason. The Detroit Lions had their second preseason game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh Saturday night and. boy, was it ugly. The Lions showed that they have a long way to go in most areas in their 26-20 loss. But there were a few guys that showed up big yet again. These few guys have continued to show up during the preseason, and it’s been a pleasure to see the future of the Lions do that.

Here’s the thing, the “future of the Lions” hasn’t at all been the guys that you’d expect. Sure they’re seeing nice contributions from guys like Penei Sewell and Alim McNeill, but it’s the guys that are deeper on the depth chart that have been shocking everyone, guys that probably weren’t expected to make the team. Let’s take a closer look.

Craig Reynolds

Where did this guy come from? The former Division II player went undrafted in 2019 and after stints with the Football Team, the Falcons and the Jaguars, Reynolds found his way to Detroit where most expected him to be a camp body. Then the same week he showed up he did this:

Reynolds ran for 49 yards and a touchdown on six carries against the Bills—pretty good for a guy that came out of nowhere. Was it a fluke? No. Reynolds ran for 29 yards and a touchdown on five carries against the Steelers on Saturday. It’s safe to say that, at the very least, he’s made the Lions decision when it comes to cut time very hard.

Obviously D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams will control this backfield for the Lions in 2021, but that number three spot is wide open. It was assumed that spot belonged to Jermar Jefferson, but Dan Campbell’s comments on Saturday night show us that we shouldn't be assuming anything about what the Lions roster will look like.

Reynolds has shown without a doubt that he should be considered for that third running back role. If you’re asking me right now, he’s got it.

David Blough

Blough has turned out to be way better than I expected. To be honest, I didn’t think Blough was long for this roster once the new coaching staff and front office showed up. I thought he’d be gone after the 2019 season when he started five games and looked pretty rough. But he has grown as a player, and I believe he’s secured the backup quarterback job in 2021, a spot that most thought would go to Tim Boyle. Of course there were some who actually thought Tim Boyle would beat out Jared Goff for the starting spot too. Then Boyle did this on Saturday night.

Allow me to further elaborate on that. Throughout the preseason, Tim Boyle has gone 15-of-30 for 82 yards. Blough, on the other hand, has gone 17-of-23 for 219 yards and a touchdown. While he’s only thrown one touchdown, you can see in Jeremy’s tweet that he’s driven the offense to multiple scores. Blough is the number two guy on this team and there’s decent chance he might be in that spot for a few years to come. He may never be a starter in the NFL, but he’s grown quite a bit in the last few years and it should be fun to see if he grows even more.

Derrick Barnes

The previous two guys on this list have proven they can carve out roles for themselves in 2021, even if it’s just as a reserve. This cat has proven that he could be a starter for the Lions as early as 2021, and he could potentially be a star in the NFL at some point. Yeah, we’re overreacting that hard. Look at what Barnes can do out there:

Barnes is doing everything Lions fans hoped Jarrad Davis could do. He’s going sideline to sideline, he’s succeeding in pass coverage, he’s rushing the quarterback and he’s getting stops in the run game. Derrick Barnes is doing it all, and he’s making it look like the Lions may have gotten one of the biggest steals at the position with a fourth-round pick.

Outside of Barnes, the rest of the Lions linebacking corps looked to be a mess. Barnes shouldn't have an issue beating out Jahlani Tavai or Jalen Reeves-Maybin or frankly any of the other Lions linebackers to get prime playing time in 2021. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch this guy get better and better.