In 2021 everyone knew the Lions didn't have a very good receiver corp. There was some hope that there would be a surprise break-through or break-out, but you really didn't believe that this was an elite receiver group. Matter of fact, the receivers were rated the worst in the NFL.
The receivers were the 2021 Lions' weakest link. There were other concerns to be sure. The defense didn't scare anybody and there were big concerns with several positions in this group too. The 2021 draft tried to address the defensive line, but it is definitely a sign when you take back-to-back picks hoping to shore things up.
Other areas of the defense were a concern but you had to hope, and perhaps believe that the free agents that the Lions had brought in over the prior two seasons would provide some veteran savvy to make things work at LB and CB (Jaime Collins and Justin Coleman). You might also hold out hope that the only issue on the defensive line was on the interior since Trey Flowers would shore up one end.
So the receiver group definitely stood out as a glaring weakness in 2021. You just had to hope and pray that the team knew something that other analysts around the NFL didn't.
In 2022 what's the big glaring hole? I think it shifts back to the defense and remains the position that was the second greatest concern heading into 2021. The interior of the defensive line is the weakness that attracts my attention. Even more so now that John Penisini is retiring. I had hoped he would be healthy and resume playing at the level he had during his rookie season. Unfortunately, that was not to be.
John Penisini had earned a starting role during 2020, but medical issues derailed what seemed a promising career. Michael Brockers had been brought in, in 2021, and it was hoped he'd provide the interior with veteran leadership as well as superior performance. Unfortunately, Brockers seemed to have nagging injuries that limited his effectiveness. With Penisini also limited, Alim McNeill and Levi Onwuzurike were pushed to the forefront, but weren't totally ready to shine. Onwuzurike had his own medical issues. McNeill was forced to play more with Penisini's and Brocker's limitations.
This year the Lions have added more edge help but, didn't get a new big tackle. I think there was hope that Penisini, McNeill, and Onwuzurike would be enough to shoulder more and more of the burden away from Brockers, but that doesn't seem to be the case now. Just how healthy are these three players?
Josh Paschal was looked to help inside, but he has a lower extremity injury now too. Is Jashon Cornell ready to shoulder more burden? Can undrafted free agent Demetrius Davis surprise? Could the Lions swing a trade?
It might be possible to make a trade. The Lions seem to have a lot of offensive line talent, as well as a replenished receiver corp. Perhaps there could be interest in Matt Nelson or Khalil Raymond? Or, do the Lions have an overabundance of DEs? Would Austin Bryant or John Caminsky be appealing to a team with a good second or third string NT?
The "elephant in the room," in terms of weakness to me is the DT position in 2022. I am left to hoping and praying that this isn't the case, but there just don't seem to be proven players and the depth to reassure me.
What do you think? Is DT the weakest weakness on the team, or do you think another position group is weaker? An argument could be made for corner backs, safeties, and linebackers, but I think these groups ultimately will only be as good as the interior linemen on defense are. What do you think?