Expectations for the Detroit Lions defense are certainly on the rise. The unit improved as the 2022 season went along, but there is obviously still a lot of room to grow.
And despite those increased expectations, there is still a fair point to be made about the defensive roster: a clear lack of superstars. The Lions had four Pro Bowlers last year, and they call came on the offensive side of the ball. In fact, the Lions don’t have a single player on their entire defensive roster who has ever made a Pro Bowl.
Obviously, youth plays a lot into that. Every single defender (except for Christian Covington) on the roster is 28 or younger, with most projected starters under 27 years old.
So on this week’s Midweek Mailbag, myself and Erik Schlitt discussed which Lions players could eventually become a top-10 or top-15 player at their position. We both agreed that the only player who may hold that designation right now is C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who could very well be a top-10 nickel corner (or even safety) in this league right now.
But the potential is obviously there for a guy like Aidan Hutchinson to make that step in the next year or two.
“He is this dynamic player that does so many different things,” Schlitt said. “But like we talked about in the first segment, he’s not a guy who is going to be a 15-sack guy. So he’s going to fly under the radar of some of the talking head who only at the stat sheet.”
Another potential candidate is Lions safety Kerby Joseph. In fact, during Louis Riddick’s epic rant about the Lions’ bright future, he said Joseph is going to be an All-Pro or Pro Bowler this year. I’m not quite ready to go that far, but I do think he has a chance to work his way into that conversation over the next couple seasons.
“There were a lot of growing pains in between all of the interceptions that he did have,” I said. “I do think he’s going to look better because he’s going to have a better surrounding cast.”
Other names we threw around in the conversation: Alim McNeill and Jack Campbell (in the future). That conversations starts around the 20:35 mark of the podcast below.
Other topics this week:
- What are reasonable Year 2 expectations for Aidan Hutchinson, James Houston? (2:30)
- Where do we want to see growth in Jared Goff’s game? (6:40)
- Clarifying the new emergency QB rule (10:20)
- Is the Teddy Bridgewater deal dead? (11:40)
- Can the Lions be both explosive and grind out clock on offense? (14:50)
- How much will Jameson Williams play in the preseason (25:40)? And how long will it take for him to jump into the starting lineup after his suspension is up? (28:45)
- Who are the candidates to be the Lions’ personal protector, gunner and kick returner/fair catcher? (32:20)