FanPost

Did the DT/NT Depth Just Fall Out of the Sky for Lions?

If you watched the DT depth fail against the Atlanta back-up OL in the first Preseason game, you probably didn't need Dan Campbell saying in one of his pressers last week that the Detroit Lions need to find another run-stuffer to give Alim McNeill some help, that need should be obvious to all.
Lions were blindsided by John Penisi's sudden retirement as he looked like a pretty good back-up NT and when his retirement was announced, it was too late in the process to replace him properly, the draft was long gone and teams had their 90 man rosters set.

In that presser the other day, Campbell brought up a couple of names of players he hoped would step up, but if there was any stepping against Atlanta, it was stepping back while the Falcons stepped all over them.

Okay, Levi Onwuzunke is their #3 DT, but he was injured and didn't play, hasn't practiced much either and coming off a rookie season where he was so injured that according to Lion coaches, he couldn't sit-down in the meeting rooms. Levi has missed so much time that I had to look up how to spell his name, So, while I have high hopes for him, we also have to be realistic and not count on him, just take what he does as a bonus, and he's not the run-stuffing type anyways.
The rookie Josh Paschal was also thought to be able to help on the inside, however it's looking like he will be starting his NFL career on IR, hope we see him this year, but more for his sake and getting some snaps in than what he will bring to the Lions in 2022.
Jashon Cornell had a good OTAs and it sounded like a good start to training camp, but we haven't heard a lot about him since they put on the pads and he sure didn't show up against Atlanta.

After that the in house options are;
Bruce Hector, 6-2 296, 27 year old former UDFA that has spent most of his 4 year career on practice squads or inactive, Lions had him on their practice squad last year except for a total of 52 snaps over 3 games. You guys remember him, neither did I.
Isiah Buggs, 6-3 295 2019 6th round pick by the Steelers out of Alabama. Played 29 games over the next 3 years, started 7, 5 of them last year before he missed the tail end of the season with an injury and has never gone above 227 snaps in a season. The Steelers were so impressed, they didn't bring him back for his 4th season and the Lions signed him 3 weeks ago
The rookie UDFA Demetrius Taylor 6-1 290, from Appalachian St that seems like a better fit for the practice squad this year than being the back-up NT. NT gets a bad name as just some big guy that flops around, but playing NT is a grown man's game and Taylor is going to need some NFL strength training.
Out of these three, Buggs would seem to be the best option, However it seems like a poor option.

John Cominsky played some DT, but that was mostly as a 3-Tech, not what we are looking for. What we need is someone that can anchor in the middle and has the weight and strength to muck things up. He doesn't have to play 600 snaps, 300 - 400 snaps either giving Twinkle Toes a breather or playing along side him in short yardage defense.
However, it wouldn't hurt if he could play more snaps than that, I don't know if you noticed Brockers much in that game, which falls in line with how we didn't notice him much last year either. Couldn't hurt to take away a few of his snaps.

So if we know the Lions are not lining up a Super Bowl run right now, why not just develop Taylor or try to get something out of Buggs. If the Lions are willing to play inexperienced LBs with the hopes they develop over the season and be good to go in 2023, why not do the same with DT. The answer is because of those young LBs, for them to develop properly, they are going to need decent DT play in front of them.

So where is this depth that might have fallen out of the sky, The Jacksonville Jaguars cut Malcolm Brown yesterday. Can't believe you didn't feel the thud when the 330 pounder hit the ground.

Some of you probably remember him as the Patriots 1st round pick in the 2015 draft where he went on to start 51 games out of 60 played over the next four years. Always a good run stuffer, the Patriots had a little higher hopes for him, but that didn't materialized and the Patriots let him go after his rookie contract was up. Last year Brown started all 17 games last year with a heavy workload of 677 snaps, however, the Jags have a new regime and are rebuilding, starting with the DL so they released him in the cut down to 85.

Malcolm is still only 28 and while he isn't a top NT, he is a good nose tackle, far better than I would have hoped to find right now. Because the Jags are the only team in front of the Lions on the waiver wire, the Lions can have him if they want him, just have to pick up his salary, which is a little bit of a rub. Near as I can tell, the Lions would be on the hook for around 4 mil, which is a little higher than I want to pay, but doubtful he would make it all the way through waivers and even more doubtful he would come to Detroit if he is a total free agent, lot of teams need DT depth and some of them are true contenders. Have to think of that contract as the cost of making sure we get him and as a payment towards developing those LBs while making the need to rush Levi and Paschal just a little less.
What makes this interesting is those two years Brown played between the Patriots and the Jaguars when he started 29 games for the New Orleans Saints. Don't the Lions know someone that was on that coaching staff during that time period?
If Campbell and Glenn believe Brown would be a fit, how can we say no, and if they don't want him, we won't say yes either, this is their call and I hope the call is from Holmes to Brown and his agent.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Pride Of Detroit or its writers.