With the shocking announcement of third-year defensive lineman John Penisini retiring, the Detroit Lions now have a roster spot to fill (actually two considering Jermaine Waller also retired earlier this week). Penisini was considered to be one of the top reserves on the defensive line, so this could slightly alter the landscape of the position. Other than Alim McNeill, he might have been the only other player worthy of filling a nose tackle type role for the defense.
Now that Penisini is gone, there could be a couple of guys that will see this as a great opportunity to make the roster and potentially see some action. That, or the Lions could go an entirely different route and use this as an excuse to add another body to the D-line through free agency. Either way, Penisini had a pretty decent shot at making the final roster, so someone is going to have to fill his shoes.
Today’s Question of the Day is...
Which player will benefit the most from the retirement of John Penisini?
My answer: Jashon Cornell.
With the Lions moving to more of an attacking four-man front this year, the need for a nose tackle could be greatly reduced. They already have McNeill who can fill the role of a nose tackle, and his explosiveness allows them to use him in a variety of ways.
Cornell benefits because he has the base to fill in as a nose tackle in a pinch, but he is also very explosive and should get a lot of looks as a 3-tech. And if we’re being honest, Cornell could have already had a leg up over Penisini on the depth chart even before the retirement came.
When asked about the new scheme during minicamps, here is what Cornell had to say:
“Oh I love it. I love this new philosophy. I love it a lot. I think it really showcases every player’s ability. I think they’re putting every player in the position to win. I feel like this is the opportunity for a lot of guys to really showcase who they are, because our coaching staff is making this switch to put every specific player in the position they need to be to win. And I feel like this is a great opportunity for a lot of guys to go out there and just play ball, and that’s what we want to do.”
In regards to where his best position is to win:
“Three-technique. That’s me right there. Three-tech, yeah, that’s the position for me. Three-technique.”
Barring any new additions, I really like where Cornell stands in the current mix of the DL room. He has a shot to be one of the top reserves along with Levi Onwuzurike with only Bruce Hector and Demetris Taylor standing in his way.