Got a little drunk on Honolulu Blue Kool Aid, so perhaps it's the beverage talking more than my normally entirely clear mental capacity. Still I thought I'd share a few "what if," scenarios with you. I'm hoping to get some comments, if not out right support, too.
What if the defensive line does take a big step forward? What if Hutch and Harris become an elite pass rushing duo? What if McNeill and perhaps a cast of three or four provide enough impact in the middle to make the entire DL elite? Would this transform the whole defensive unit? Would the linebackers and secondary suddenly look much, much better? How possible is it that Hutch, Harris, and McNeill get Pro Bowl consideration? Even if they aren't named, just being in the conversation might mean a lot for the future of the franchise, right?
What if the offensive line stays healthy and develops into an elite force? What difference could it make in overall offensive production? Would third down efficiency go way, way, way up? Would long passes become more common? Would the Lions suddenly become a top scoring team (maybe in the top 5)? Would our skill players also become recognized as superior talent? How many Pro Bowl candidates could the offense have? Could D'Andre Swift lead the league in rushing yards? Could he lead the league in combined offensive yards produced? Would Jared Goff suddenly become ranked in the top 10 at QB?
Is either scenario possible? The Lions are building from the trenches and seem to getting better, but do they have enough talent yet? The offensive line is getting more notoriety, but the defensive line has the #2 overall draft pick.
Charles Harris was an elite end last season statistically. Alim McNeill seems to still have a lot of potential and is just 22 years old. Is three out of four players enough to serve as a base for an elite defensive line? Is it still too young? McNeill is 22, and Aidan Hutchinson is still just 21 (until August 9th). Levi Onwuzurike turned 24 this year. Rookie Demetrius Taylor is 23. Julian Okwara is 24 and has just played one full season. Jashon Cornell is 25. The other players that complete the DL are Michael Brockers, 31, Austin Bryant, 25, John Cominsky, 26, Romeo Okwara, who just turned 27 on June 25th, Bruce Hector, 27, Eric Banks, 24, and recently signed free agent Isaiah Buggs, who turns 26 on August 24th. This is a very young group with not very much experience as of yet. That's not a proven good or bad track record to bet on, but you have to admit it is a considerable amount of young talent that could emerge to be very good.
If both lines prove to be very good, I think the chances of success for the entire team are very much improved. Is it too much to hope for? Is the youth too much to expect it to bloom this early on the DL?