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2023 Detroit Lions roster preview: What will John Cominsky’s role be in 2023?

After a career year in 2022 earned him a pay day in Detroit, where does Cominsky fit in along the Lions’ defensive line?

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

As we inch closer to the beginning of training camp, our Detroit Lions roster preview series makes its way to the next player that re-signed with Detroit during the offseason—defensive end John Cominsky.

Let’s take a look at how Cominsky’s 2022 went in Detroit, and what his role may look like in 2023.

Previous roster previews: Aidan Hutchinson, Jameson Williams, Josh Paschal, Kerby Joseph, James Mitchell, Malcolm Rodriguez, James Houston, Chase Lucas, Obinna Eze, Greg Bell, Penei Sewell, Levi Onwuzurike, Alim McNeill, Ifeatu Melifonwu, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Derrick Barnes, Jermar Jefferson, Brock Wright, Jerry Jacobs, Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley, David Montgomery, Graham Glasgow, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Marvin Jones Jr., Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Christian Covington, Craig Reynolds, and Isaiah Buggs.

John Cominsky

Expectations for 2022

In most cases, a player that is claimed off waivers may have a handful of suitors. In Cominsky’s case, there were eight teams that put in a claim for the defensive end. And while this isn’t typical on the waiver wire, Cominsky’s situation wasn’t typical, either.

Cominsky had himself a really productive 2020 season with the Atlanta Falcons, logging nearly 400 defensive snaps, but after a scheme change due to coaching turnover in 2021—Cominsky saw his usage shrink to just four games.

Needless to say, the Lions were excited to add him to a defensive line that needed to bolster its overall depth and talent level. Because of his size (6-foot-5, 285 pounds) and skillset, Cominsky has the ability to play the big defensive end position in defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn’s defense, as well as the strength and power to hold up inside at the three-technique.

Actual role in 2022

14 games (8 starts): 554 defensive snaps
Stats: 22 total tackles, 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 3 PBUs
PFF defensive grade: 68.2 (34th out of 72 EDGE defenders with 500+ snaps)
PFF run defense grade: 62.8 (40th of 72)
PFF tackling grade: 55.5 (28th of 72)
PFF pass rush grade: 61.6 (46th of 72)

Seemingly as soon as Cominsky hit the field in Detroit, he picked up right where he left off in 2020. He was a consistent performer for the Lions—both against the run, and the pass. And his bull rush was a thing of beauty.

He missed three games in the early stages of the 2023 season, but other than that missed time, he was a fixture along the defensive front. His counting statistics aren’t gaudy by any means, but there were more than a handful of plays, like the one below, where Cominsky was directly responsible for setting up a teammate to make a play. Former University of Michigan star Aidan Hutchinson was a frequent recipient of these assists from Cominsky.

Towards the back half of the year, Cominsky would see his snaps increase—only seeing less than 40 snaps one time from Week 10 to the end of the season. And as his usage increased, so did the effectiveness of the Lions’ defense as a whole.

There were weeks in which he was repping more on the inside over the guard, and others when he was playing opposite Hutchinson, in the aforementioned big defensive end spot. Like other members of the Lions’ defense, Cominsky’s versatility gave Aaron Glenn options when deciding how he wanted to deploy his scheme.

Outlook for 2023

After the year he had in Detroit, Cominsky earned a nice payday—inking a new two-year deal with the Lions, worth $8.5 million.

Like others on the 2022 Lions, Cominsky made his desire to remain in Detroit clear. And the feelings were mutual. Just ask Lions coach Dan Campbell.

“He’s highly intelligent, certainly he’s high motor, he is aggressive, but I think he’s just – he’s a little bit of that glue for those guys up front,” coach Dan Campbell said earlier in the 2022 season. “And so, he’s very important. He plays the run, I mean he’s as good as anybody we’ve got setting an edge in the run game. So, he’s – he’s kind of a vital part of what we are up front defensively.”

With the Lions’ defensive line now stocked with more young talent and a new position coach in John Scott Jr., it will be interesting to see how Cominsky is utilized in 2023. Will he see more time on the inside now that the Lions are a bit more well stocked at EDGE? Or will he be able to lock down the big end position across from Hutchinson?

Wherever he lines up, it is expected Cominsky will be a consistent vet in a room that is full of young talent.

“I think we’re expected to make plays and be the ringleaders for this defense,” Cominsky said of the Lions’ front. “I think it all starts with us. Any defense, it starts with that defensive line. I think we understand that. The young guys, Aidan Hutchinson is year two, Josh Paschal is year two, James Houston is year two. You might be a second-year player, but we need you to start acting like a vet, because this is what we’ve got. This is our future, so I think we’re embracing it and embracing that this defense needs us.”

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