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Checking in on D’Andre Swift, Jeff Okudah, other former Detroit Lions

How have former Detroit Lions played in their new homes in 2023? Let’s check in on D’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams, Jeff Okudah, Starling Thomas V, and a few others.

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Earlier in the season, we were doing weekly check-ins with some of the players the Detroit Lions lost this offseason—whether it be via free agency or roster cuts. It was a neat way to keep track of some of the players we had grown to love and analyze whether the Lions made the right decision on moving on from those players.

Since then, a whole playoff and divisional chase got in the way, and we dropped the series about halfway through the season. But with an extra day of coverage to fill thanks to a Saturday game, I thought this was a good chance to revisit the series.

If you want to catch up on previous editions, check them out here.

As a 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.

Week 15

RB D’Andre Swift — Eagles

Week 15 stats: 18 carries, 74 yards (4.1 YPC); 2 catches, 1 yard
Season stats: 196 carries, 896 yards (4.6 YPC), 4 TDs; 38 catches, 209 yards, 1 TD

Swift is closing in on 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his career. He currently ranks fifth in the NFL in rushing yards, 11th in yards per carry, and ninth in broken tackles. But it’s worth noting that as the Eagles have started to struggle, Swift’s production has taken a pretty massive hit.

Games 1-7: 101 rushes, 514 yards (5.1 YPC), 2 TDs; 26 catches, 128 yards, 1 TD
Games 8-14: 95 rushes, 382 yards (4.0 YPC), 2 TDs; 12 catches, 81 yards

That said, it’s good to see that Swift’s body has held up for the entire season after dealing with injuries every year in Detroit. His 234 touches is a career high already, and it doesn’t appear he’s been battling through any serious injury.

RB Jamaal Williams — Saints

Week 15 stats: 8 carries, 24 yards (3.0 YPC); 1 catch, 2 yards
Season stats: 71 carries, 214 yards (3.0 YPC); 10 catches, 36 yards

It’s been a tough year for everyone’s favorite anime-obsessed back. After filling in for Alvin Kamara early in the year and seeing some moderate success, injuries and the return of Kamara have limited Williams’ contributions significantly. He’s never had more than 50 rushing yards in a game, and up until the past couple weeks (19 rushes in past two games), he has typically been touching the ball just five or fewer times a week.

After setting the Lions’ franchise record for rushing touchdowns, Williams has yet to find the end zone even once with the Saints.

The Lions are clearly doing fine with David Montgomery, but one has to wonder what the Saints were thinking adding Williams at the price they did if they were barely going to use him.

WR DJ Chark — Panthers

Week 15 stats: 1 catch, 18 yards
Season stats: 26 catches, 363 yards, 3 TDs

After battling injuries early in the year, Chark has still managed to make the field in 12 of the Panthers’ 14 games. However, his production numbers are the lowest since his rookie season, averaging just 30.3 receiving yards per game. He’s eclipsed 50 receiving yards just twice this season, but it’s hard to know how much of that is on him and how much is on a Panthers passing offense that has struggled massively under rookie quarterback Bryce Young: Carolina ranks 31st in passing yards and 32nd in yards per attempt.

For funsies, here’s him making a nice catch against Jeff Okudah last week on what would be the game-winning drive for Carolina:

C Evan Brown — Seahawks

Week 15 stats: 49.4 PFF grade, 2 pressures allowed
Season stats: 54.2 PFF grade (32nd out of 39 centers)

While Brown was a solid reserve lineman for the Lions, he has struggled as a full-time starter in Seattle. He remains a steady pass blocker, but his 54.5 run blocking grade is dragging his overall performance down. Needless to say, the Lions are likely happy with their decision to sign Graham Glasgow (76.3 PFF grade) to replace him.

LB Josh Woods — Cardinals

Week 15 stats: 5 tackles, 29.0 PFF grade
Season stats: 61 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 QB hit, 1 pass defended, 1 fumble recovery

In 11 games played, Woods has essentially been a full-time starter for the first time in his career. Unfortunately, it’s been a very bumpy road for the 27-year-old defender. The Cardinals have decided to take him mostly off of special teams, and the results have not been great. Woods’ 31.8 defensive PFF grade currently ranks dead last out of 61 qualifying linebackers.

LB Chris Board — Patriots

Week 15 stats: 1 tackle
Season stats: 8 tackles, 75.6 PFF special teams grade

Board has not logged a single defensive snap all season, as he continues to be a core special teamer for the Patriots. In fact, only two players in the entire NFL have played more special teams snaps than Board.

CB Mike Hughes — Falcons

Week 15 stats: 2 tackles, 1 TFL,
Season stats: 13 tackles, 1 TFL; 3 kick returns, 46 yards; 11 punt returns, 67 yards

Hughes got his second start of the season last week, replacing Dee Alford as the primary nickel. Though he earned a bad 57.0 PFF grade, he only allowed a single catch for 16 yards on two targets. It’s unclear if the job is now his, but that would be a nice late-season win for Hughes as the Falcons try to make a playoff push.

Earlier in the season, Hughes was tasked to be the Falcons’ returner, but they’ve since taken him off those duties.

CB Jeff Okudah — Falcons

Week 15 stats: 2 tackles
Season stats: 43 tackles, 1 TFL, 3 passes defended, 51.9 PFF grade (104th out of 119 CBs)

After a promising start to the year—earning 64.1 PFF grade through Week 7—Okudah has struggled down the stretch. Per PFF, Okudah has allowed 30 catches on 50 targets for 468 yards and a 91.1 passer rating.

Unsurprisingly, he remains a pretty good player when it comes to his run support (68.5 run defense grade), but his coverage remains very hit or miss. Though he hasn’t allowed a touchdown yet this season, only three passes defended is a particularly low mark.

CB Starling Thomas — Cardinals

Week 15 stats: 5 tackles, 1 pass defended
Season stats: 20 tackles, 1 TFL, 3 passes defended, 48.7 PFF grade

Thomas, an undrafted rookie, has earned four starts with the Cardinals, including last week’s game against the 49ers. Even when not officially starting, Thomas has found both a defensive role and special teams role for the Cardinals in every game since mid-October (outside of one game he was injured).

Much like Okudah, though, he has gone through a lot of issues in coverage—in fact, much more. Per PFF, he has allowed 22 catches on just 27 targets for 281 yards, three touchdowns and a 147.1 passer rating.

Of course, it’s hard to expect more out of an undrafted rookie. Hopefully the playing time is giving him valuable experience and lessons to learn from as he develops.

S DeShon Elliott — Dolphins

Week 15 stats: DNP (concussion)
Stats: 60 tackles, 6 passes defended, 1 fumble recovery

Elliott is in the midst of a fantastic season with his new team. He’s one of the best run-defending safeties in the league (83.6 PFF grade) and he’s enjoying one of his best coverage seasons, as well (career-high six passes defended).

Overall, Elliott’s 72.9 PFF grade ranks 24th among NFL safeties, much higher than Detroit’s highest-graeded safety who meets the minimum snap requirement (Tracy Walker, 62.6). That said, Ifeatu Melifonwu’s recent strong play (74.5 PFF grade) gives Detroit a younger, more promising option.

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