For our Detroit Lions former player roundup this week, we’re going to do things a little differently and recap the entire season of each player. This should allow us to get a more thorough examination of players who the Lions lost in this free agency (or after roster cuts).
If you want to catch up on former editions of this weekly post, check them out below:
- Week 1 results: Several former Lions struggle in debut
- Week 2 results: Injuries plague former Lions
- Week 3 results: D’Andre Swift continues electric season with Eagles
- Week 4 results: Jeff Okudah solid in first Falcons start
- Week 6 results: Jeff Okudah continuing strong season with Falcons
- Week 7 results: Starling Thomas V makes first NFL start
Reminder: These are only players who were not brought back in 2023. For example, T.J. Hockenson was not included because we already saw him in a Vikings uniform in 2022. (He had six catches for 88 yards and a touchdown, if you want to know so bad).
RB D’Andre Swift — Eagles
Season stats: 117 carries, 571 yards (4.9 YPC), 3 TDs; 28 catches, 135 yards, 1 TD
Season PFF grade/rankings: 68.1 (33rd out of 54 qualifying RBs)
Week 8 stats: 15 carries, 57 yards, 1 TD
Swift is enjoying the best season of his career by a pretty significant margin. Just eight games through the year, he is already only 46 rushing yards away from his season high (617), and his 4.9 yards per carry is the second highest of his career (5.5 in 2022).
However, his efficiency in the run game has slowed down considerably as of late:
Weeks 1-4: 59 carries, 364 yards (6.2 YPC)
Weeks 5-8: 58 carries, 207 yards (3.6 YPC)
RB Jamaal Williams — Saints
Season stats: 38 carries, 118 yards (3.1 YPC) 0 TDs; 3 catches, 15 yards
Season PFF grade: 56.1 (54th out of 59 qualifying RBs)+
Week 8 stats: 6 carries, 30 yards; 1 catch, 8 yards
Williams missed four games due to a hamstring, but he hasn’t been much of a factor since his return in Week 6. With Alvin Kamara back from suspension, Williams is averaging just six touches a game, and after setting the Lions’ franchise record for touchdowns in a season, he is still seeking his first end zone trip in New Orleans this year.
WR DJ Chark — Panthers
Season stats: 15 catches, 220 yards, 2 TDs
Season PFF grade: 55.9 (100th out of 120 qualifying WRs)+
Week 8 stats: 4 catches, 23 yards
In six game appearances, Chark hasn’t been much of a factor in most of them. He only has two games in which he tallied more than 30 receiving yards—his 42-yard performance against Detroit, and a very solid 86-yard game against the Seahawks.
Of course, Chark is playing with a rookie quarterback, so this dip in production is understandable.
C Evan Brown — Seahawks
Season PFF grade: 62.0 (21st out of 38 qualifying centers)+
Week 8 grade: 61.8
In his first season as the designated full-time starter, Brown has been phenomenal as a pass blocker. He’s allowed just eight total pressures and no sacks, earning a 72.1 pass blocking grade from PFF—seventh-best in the NFL among centers. He’s struggled as a run-blocker, though.
Thankfully, Brown is back in action after missing Week 7 with a hip injury.
LB Josh Woods — Cardinals
Season stats: 11 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass defended, 1 forced fumble
Season PFF grade: 42.5 (80th out of 80 qualifying LBs)
Week 8 stats: 4 tackles, 1 forced fumble
Woods missed three games this year, but in the other five he’s been a big part of the Cardinals’ defensive gameplan, playing at least 30 snaps in each game and starting three games.
But... as the PFF grade suggests, it’s been a bit of a rough go for Woods in his first year as a significant defensive contributor. The good news is that his PFF grade is being bogged down by his first two games. He’s actually graded 69.7 or higher in each of his last three games, signaling that he’s turning things around.
LB Chris Board — Patriots
Season stats: 4 tackles
Season PFF grade: 65.2 special teams grade
Week 8 stats: N/A
Board has just a single defensive snap through eight weeks, but he’s a four-phase special teamer for the Patriots.
CB Mike Hughes — Falcons
Season stats: 4 tackles, 11 punt returns, 67 yards; 3 kick returns, 46 yards
Season PFF grade: 61.9 special teams grade
Week 8 stats: 1 punt return, 6 yards; 1 tackle
Like Board, Hughes has primarily been a specialist for the Falcons. He has a total of 52 defensive snaps on the year. As a punt returner, he hasn't made much of an impact yet, either, averaging just 6.1 yards per return.
CB Jeff Okudah — Falcons
Season stats: 21 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 passes defended
Season PFF grade: 62.5 PFF grade (58th out of 116 qualifying CBs)
Week 8 stats: 4 tackles, 1 TFL
Okudah has now made five straight starts for the Falcons, as he’s fully healthy from his training camp injury. He’s been playing solidly and getting some very high praise from his coaches, too.
More Jeff Okudah praise from Falcons DC Ryan Nielsen.— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) October 26, 2023
"Bright future, right? It's exciting. It really is."
Suffice it to say, Atlanta really, really likes him.
CB Starling Thomas — Cardinals
Season stats: 5 tackles, 2 passes defended
Season PFF grade: 59.4 (not enough snaps to qualify)
Week 8 stats: 1 tackles, 1 pass breakup
Thomas has only played in four games and started one. After getting his first defensive start in Week 7, he only played sparingly in Week 8. That said, in just 25 snaps against the Ravens, Thomas did tally his second pass breakup of the season and a FANTASTIC 84.6 PFF grade.
S DeShon Elliott — Dolphins
Season stats: 43 tackles, 4 passes defended, 1 fumble recovery
Season PFF grade: 80.0 (8th among 87 qualifying safeties)
Week 8 stats: 6 tackles, 1 pass defended
Out of everyone on this list, Elliott may be having the best season away from Detroit. We knew Elliott was a force as a run defender, but he’s been a very well-rounded player in Miami. In coverage, he’s allowed just four catches on 10 targets for 52 yards with four pass breakups. I mean, look at this play from last week: