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Notes: Detroit Lions jump 14 spots in offensive skill position rankings

“The Lions are on the right track,” ESPN’s Bill Barnwell says.

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Green Bay Packers vs Detroit Lions Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Detroit Lions have drastically improved the quality of their playmakers around their quarterback since last season, according to ESPN analyst Bill Barnwell.

Over on ESPN+, Barnwell ranked each team based on the strength of their running backs, tight ends, and wide receivers to support their QB. In this exercise, he determines which teams would have the best offense in these players were dropped into an offense with an average quarterback, offensive line, plus average coaching and luck.

The good news—the Lions jumped 14 spots since just last season. The bad news—they’re still not cracking the top 15. In 2021, Barnwell ranked the Lions ranked near dead last at 31 and not much better in 2020 at No. 25. But this year is already looking better, Barnwell says.

“The Lions are on the right track, and there’s a lot to like about what they’ve assembled on offense around quarterback Jared Goff,” he writes.

However, that sentence is immediately followed by: “I’m not sure it will all coalesce in 2022.”

Oh. Barnwell notes Amon-Ra St. Brown’s well-known increased production in the latter half of 2021 that drew national attention, even saying he played like a “superstar.” Another however:

“I’d point toward garbage time and a lack of other options in the passing game as inflating those numbers a bit, given that T.J. Hockenson was out for most of that stretch, but that production has to count for something,” he says.

Whether St. Brown can exhibit the same star power while the rest of the offensive weapons are in full health or not, even if he’s a solid starter that still gives the Lions quite a bit of options, Barnwell observes.

The analyst believes, like many of us, Hockenson is due for a bounce back season, and notes running back D’Andre Swift’s six games with at least 100 yards from scrimmage. Predictably, Barnwell has his eyes on Jameson Williams as the potential difference-maker in the Lions offense. With his status uncertain following January’s ACL tear, Barnwell says we might not see what Williams is truly capable until the end of the season, “leaving Detroit poised to rise up these rankings next year.”

NFC North rival the Green Bay Packers dropped from 11th to 29th in these rankings and the Chicago Bears from 26th to 31st, but the Minnesota Vikings rose one spot from No. 5 to fourth overall.

You can read the full article here. ($)

And onto the rest of your notes.

  • The Lions were pretty solid down the stretch in 2021 — will that be the case in 2022?

  • In the latest episode of Inside the Huddle, Tim Twentyman talks about what we’re all wondering about at this point — which position battles should we watch in training camp.

  • Per usual, the Lions media team knows what the kids are talkin’ about. You may have noticed Little Mr./Mrs./Miss memes circulating. A quick explainer if you need it — they’re based off a British children’s book series by Roger Hargreaves from the 1970 but they remained popular for a while, I know I had a few as a kid. ANYWAY:

  • The NFL Total Access crew debated which QB would reach 50 wins first — Carson Wentz or Jared Goff?

  • If you took the time to spot the differences in the Lions iSpy photos in our Notes yesterday, here are the answers: