I thought it might be interesting to make a listing of what I consider to be the top 5 Lions on the roster for this upcoming year. Of course - opinions may vary and your top 5 may look somewhat different than mine. Having said that - here we go...
#5 - Penei Sewell.
They say the biggest jump in performance is year 2. If that holds true - Sewell may finish this year as one of the best right tackles in the league. His athleticism is phenomenal, he is smart, loves football, loves dominating his opponent and has all the potential in the world. You could make a legitimate argument that he should be higher on this list...
#4 - Frank Ragnow.
The undisputed captain of the Oline and one of the best in the business at center. He anchors what is looking to be one of the best Olines in the league.
#3 - Amon Ra St. Brown.
Back to the concept that the year 2 leap should be large - it seems that the sky is the limit for this young man. He has the sort of temperament, disciplined effort and dedication to his craft that is irrepressible. His ability to create space will provide Goff with a dependable hot option when blitzed and its not outside the realm of possibility that we see ARSB snag over 100 receptions this year...even with the loaded WR room the Lions have this year.
#2 - Deandre Swift.
This very well may be the year that we see Swift put it all together and play an entire season. If he does that - he may end up being the running back that leads the NFC in total yards from scrimmage. I can envision him achieving 1700-1800 total yards from scrimmage (lets say 1100 rushing and 600 or so receiving yards). If he is able to achieve close to these totals - it will make the play action deadly to opposing defenses. Absolutely DEADLY.
#1 - Jarrad Goff.
Probably my most controversial selection - but here goes with my rationale...
1. The strength of our Oline is going to give the Lions a fantastic running game which will force defenses to keep an extra man in the box to stop. The Oline will consistently open holes for our RBs to exploit and will give the Lions the ability to rush for over 2000 combined yards this upcoming season. Because of this - and the fact that opposing defenses are going to have to keep an extra man in the box - they wont be able to double team any of our receivers leaving them with one on one coverage or seams in zones that can be exploited.
2. The strength of our Oline in pass blocking will give Goff the time he needs to survey the field and find the open receiver. With the strength and depth of our WR room - on any given play - surely one or 2 of our receivers are going to be open.
3. As already mentioned - a strong running game will make play action passing extremely effective and Goff is one of the best in the business in play action.
4. The speed of our WR room is going to put so much pressure on opposing defenses. Initially it will be Chark primarily but once Williams is cleared to play (I would imagine by week 6 at the latest) we are going to give opposing defensive coordinators some sleepless nights trying to figure out how to defend the entire field. If they play 2 deep safeties - that opens up the run game into a light box as well as gives Hockenson one on one coverage where he can exploit the middle of the field. If they try to defend against the run - their corners will get burned and give Goff some deep bombs downfield. They cant really play single high safety because a single deep safety cant defend both sides of the field and if both Chark and Williams are running (one on each side) - Goff will have his choice.
5. Goff has proven to be a pretty accurate QB and our receivers have pretty good hands so I would expect Goff to complete around 70% of his passes.
I could make a pretty compelling argument for Goff to finish the year with something in the area of about 4800 yards and 30-35 TDs. Additionally - I can envision this offense putting up an average of 30 points per game over the season.
TJ Hockenson, Taylor Decker.
Aidan Hutchinson, Levi Onwuzurike, Amani Oruwariye, Tracy Walker, Alim McNeil, Jameson Williams and Jonah Jackson.
Comeback Player of the Year Candidates:
Romeo Okwara and Jeffrey Okudah.
This has the makings of one of the best rosters in my lifetime. It seems to me that the offense is much further along than the defense at the moment although that may change by next year at this time with Brad Holmes having one more draft and free agency period...