I'm optimistic that the entire Lions' defense will be vastly improved in 2023. The secondary gets the most notoriety with so many free agent signings and the drafting of Brian Branch as well. The linebacker corp gets noticed too with the addition of first round pick Jack Campbell. I can't help but to wonder most though about the DL. It has been the center of attention for probably three years now.
Brad Holmes tried to restock the interior with the signing of Michael Brockers and the drafting of Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill. Unfortunately, as we all know, two thirds of that trio didn't quite pan out. Fortunately, Isaiah Buggs provided some relief while Josh Paschal, another draftee in 2022, was on the mend.
This year there's hope Onwuzurike might get back to the team. Paschal is also firmly expected to contribute. Buggs also is being counted on as is McNeill. Newly drafted Brodric Martin enters the fray as well.
There's hope that Romeo Okwara will return to his former ways as a stud sacker. Charles Harris too should be pushing to excel. Julian Okwara is perhaps on the bubble as James Houston is looking to improve on his outstanding rookie season. Aidan Hutchinson seems to setting the bar for overall team performance pretty high, and sounds as if we should expect more from him even though his rookie season was very successful. John Cominsky returns as well and I'm hopeful that he proves to be even better this year too. The Lions also recently signed veteran Christian Covington for even more DL depth.
If you're not counting that's 12 names so far and then there's Benito Jones and undrafted rookies Cory Durden and Chris Smith that are also entering the competition. Now we're up to 15 players! That's a lot of linemen. If the team retains 10 from this group that's a lot, isn't it? Typically I think of the defensive secondary as being the largest overall roster group, but the DL is giving it a run for the money. (Last time I checked the Lions have 17 DBs on the roster.)
I keep playing with who I think will make the final cut. Here's my current guess: Hutchinson, Cominsky, R Okwara, Harris, Houston, Paschal, McNeill, Buggs, Martin, and Jones. Julian Okwara, Christian Covington, Levi Onwuzurike, Cory Durden, and Chris Smith might find their way to the practice squad hopefully. This should be a very good competition group to watch.