The Detroit Lions have 28 players who could potentially become free agents by the new league year (March 15). So for every single day of February, we’re going to profile one of those free agents, recap how they performed in 2022, and discuss the options the Lions have for the player’s future.
Next on our list is defensive lineman John Cominsky. This is the latest installment in Pride of Detroit’s free agent profile series, and if you missed the first edition that took a look at cornerback Will Harris, you can check it out here: Will Harris
Let’s take a closer look.
Expectations heading into 2022
Since waiver priority is based on the prior year’s standings, the Lions were awarded Cominsky despite seven other teams also putting in a claim for him. Originally drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons, Cominsky primarily played special teams in his rookie season.
In his second season, Cominsky took a major leap—racking up 21 pressures and playing almost 400 defensive snaps. However, a schematic change in 2021 left him in a tough spot, which led to the Falcons parting ways prior to the 2022 season.
From the get go in Detroit, it seemed as though it was expected that Cominsky would be a rotational piece for defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn’s defense. He had shown he could play all along the defensive line, and with other defensive linemen like Josh Paschal, Romeo Okwara, and Levi Onwuzurike beginning the year with injuries—his versatility was a welcomed asset.
Actual role in 2022
14 games (8 starts): 30 tackles (5 for loss), 4 sacks, 3 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, and 1 blocked kick
PFF grade: 68.3 (50th out of 131 qualifying edge defenders)
Snap breakdown (per PFF)
- 8% in the A-gap
- 17% in the B-gap
- 18% over the tackle
- 57% outside the tackle
Because of the aforementioned injuries and the Lions’ subsequent depth issues, Cominsky was in the rotation right away once the 2022 season got underway. After suffering a thumb injury that would require surgery during the Lions’ win over the Washington Commanders in Week 2, he would miss the next four weeks while recovering.
After a two week ramp-up period in Weeks 7 and 8, Cominsky was back to seeing major snaps on a Lions’ defense that would dramatically improve over the second half of the season.
“He’s very important and really, when we lost him for that period of time, it did affect us because there’s a lot of things that he does that go unseen from the outside,” coach Dan Campbell said. “I think there’s a number of things when it comes to our stunt games and setting up our rush patterns that he is kind of our point guy on a little bit if you will. He’s highly intelligent, certainly he’s high motor, he is aggressive, but I think he’s a little bit of that glue for those guys up front.”
On top of being able to play multiple positions along the front, Cominsky often was the defensive tackle in the Lions’ “Nascar” package. He was stout against the run, and his bull rush proved to be a formidable weapon—often driving offensive linemen into the lap of opposing quarterbacks.
And to Campbell’s point on stunt games, during my film reviews throughout the course of the year, I feel like every time there was a stunt that resulted in a quarterback sack, hit, or hurry—it was almost always Cominsky doing the dirty work, allowing his teammate to run free. Case in point:
Lions' d-line is getting pretty good at executing some of these games/stunts on passing downs. this time it is Hutch who is the beneficiary pic.twitter.com/k6uiIYRqtM— Morgan Cannon (@MCannon313) December 14, 2022
Outlook for 2023
Contract status: Unrestricted free agent
With his rookie contract expiring in March, Cominsky would be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his young career. And like other Lions who are seeing their current contracts come to an end, he has made his desires very well known.
“There’s all this talk about the culture and myself, it’s just a perfect fit,” said Cominsky during locker clean-out day. “Myself and the Detroit Lions organization, I think we’re on the same page where we want to make something happen that I can be here next year. I love the guys in my room and this culture. I think this place helps me be my best, so we definitely want to be here.”
In an ideal world, Cominsky is back with the Lions in 2023. He is versatile, the coaching staff loves him, and he played some really nice football down the stretch. Even if the Lions were to add another defensive lineman with one of their first-round picks in the 2023 NFL draft, there would still be plenty of room for Cominsky in the rotation.
The trick will be for Brad Holmes and Cominsky to arrive at some middle-ground—where Cominsky is being rewarded for his productivity in 2022, and where the Lions aren’t overpaying for someone who likely won’t start many games for them in 2023.
What should the Lions do with Mike Hughes?
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