There is no more optimistic time to be a Detroit Lions fan than in the afterglow of the NFL Draft. The common joke is that the draft is Detroit Lions fans’ Super Bowl, and it’s hard to argue when you see so much passion for the even tin the months and months leading up to the three-day affair.
Of course, with new players brings new hope, and the Detroit Lions may have gotten themselves two elite players and a supporting crew to fill both starting and complementary roles in later rounds. If you want to get a sense of just how optimistic this fanbase is right now, you needn’t look any further than draft grades from the Pride of Detroit community. In our poll—which consists of nearly 5,000 votes—75 percent of Lions fans gave Detroit’s 2022 draft class an A grade.
So let’s see how much of that optimism carries over into regular season predictions.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
How many wins will the Lions finish with in 2022?
My answer: I’m going to go with seven.
Detroit’s offense looks like it could be nasty when fully healthy. Jameson Williams not only gives the Lions the big-play weapon it’s been badly missing, but he’ll open up coverages for the rest of Detroit’s promising receiving corps, which includes DJ Chark, T.J. Hockenson, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and D’Andre Swift out of the backfield. Of course, Williams may not be ready to go after tearing his ACL, but it’s reasonable to expect at least a half-season out of him, if not more.
Defensively, there are still huge questions around the linebacker and cornerback rooms, but Detroit’s long-lacking pass rush suddenly looks like it could be a strength. Not only did they add Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal in the first two rounds of the draft, but with Romeo Okwara potentially returning from injury after only playing four games last year, the Lions have serious pass rushing potential on the edges. If Alim McNeill and Levi Onwuzurike can take big Year 2 jumps, that defensive front across the board could be one of the more formidable in the league.
Throw in players in Year 2 of a new offensive and defensive schemes and a somewhat easy schedule and division, and it’s easy to see why fans are feeling pretty darn good about the direction of this team.
However, there are some things that will continue to hold this franchise back. Detroit’s secondary is still a big question mark. Their cornerback situation is unclear, with no key long-term additions this offseason and two key pieces—Jeff Okudah and Jerry Jacobs—coming back from serious injury. The Lions don’t have two clear starters right now, let alone the depth for three or four. The room is young, though, so the potential for growth is there.
At safety, the Lions added DeShon Elliott and third-round pick Kerby Joseph to complement Tracy Walker, but that doesn’t necessarily provide immediate relief. Elliott has struggled to stay healthy for his entire career, and Joseph is still relatively new to the position and will likely have a lot of development needed before being thrust into a starting role.
Then, of course, there’s Jared Goff. Your offensive weapons are only as good as the quarterback who can feed them the ball. Goff finished 2021 strong, but he still—understandably so—has many doubters. Can he not only deliver the rock to these weapons but be considered a weapon on his own? Detroit’s defense is not good enough for him to be a game manager. He needs to be the kind of quarterback that defenses fear—and deep ball weapon—that he was back in 2017 and 2018.
If the Lions can answer some of those questions, I do believe that their ceiling is actually higher than seven games. But I just presented a lot of “ifs” in the preceding paragraphs. A lot would have to go right in Year 2 of the Dan Campbell era, and I’ve just been too programmed to expect some bad outcomes in Detroit. Therefore, I’m going to stick with a still relatively optimistic seven wins.
How many wins will the Lions finish with?
This poll is closed