clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Monday open thread: Which Detroit Lion is in greatest need of a rebound season?

The Detroit Lions could use some of these players to have turnaround 2023 campaigns.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

A lot went right for the Detroit Lions in 2022, but that doesn’t mean every player had a career year. With the Lions looking to take the next step in 2023, which players are in need of a step of their own?

Whether due to injuries, poor play, or a mix of the two, there are a few candidates in need of a rebound season. An obvious sign that a player has not met expectations is a pay cut, and the Lions have been actively trimming salary this offseason. Michael Brockers was a cap casualty, but the Lions managed to avoid a similar fate with three other players. Charles Harris, Romeo Okwara, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai were potentially on the chopping block due to their significant cap hits, but each player received a renegotiated contract. All three have battled injuries of late, so 2023 could be their final chance to prove their value in Detroit.

The Lions boast some younger players that could use rebounds. Two 2021 draft picks, Derrick Barnes and Ifeatu Melifonwu, have only seen marginal roles in their first two seasons. Though still valuable depth at linebacker and defensive back, respectively, 2023 might be their last opportunity to demonstrate starting potential. Other young players in need of a rebound include Julian Okwara, Levi Onwuzurike, and Logan Stenberg.

If you want to be bold with your definition of rebound, receiver Jameson Williams could be in need of a rebound season. Although he was expected to miss most of his rookie season, many fans were still anticipating more in his limited six games of action. Williams finished the year with a mere two touches, well below what’s expected for a first round wideout. Worse yet, Williams will miss a chunk of the 2023 season due to a gambling suspension. Some critics are already calling Williams a wasted draft pick, and while that type of “analysis” is absurd so early in his career, he has an uphill battle to make a positive impression on fans.

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Which Detroit Lion is in greatest need of a rebound season?

My answer: I’ll give two answers, one likely to make the team and one unlikely to be on the team come September.

For my unlikely pick, I have to go with Levi Onwuzurike. As mentioned in our preview article, Onwuzurike is a complete uncertainty heading into 2023. Years removed from playing healthy football, Onwuzurike faces a challenge to even hit the field, let alone be a contributor on game day. The former second-round pick needs a positive training camp performance- and health-wise, else he might be staring down retirement.

As for players who I think will make the team, Romeo Okwara is my pick. Okwara’s career with the Lions has been a roller coaster. He started strong, notching seven sacks in 2018 before returning to Earth with a single sack the following year. His 2020 campaign saw his resurgence, recording double digit sacks for the first time in his career. Yet Okwara has failed to approach that mark since, missing most of 2021 and 2022 recovering from an Achilles injury.

Okwara took a significant pay cut this offseason, and that likely saved his roster spot. As with most roster decisions, the team has to weigh performance versus price tag. The Lions have a star in Aidan Hutchinson, but his partner in crime is up for grabs. James Houston exploded onto the scene with eight sacks in seven games, but he will need to showcase every-down value beforehand. John Cominsky was similarly impressive in 2022, but operated best as a rotational piece. Josh Paschal could evolve into a starter, but he had a slow rookie season and might start off similarly. Veteran Charles Harris is in need of a rebound himself.

Okwara has experience as a high-volume defensive end, and he’s been a productive one at that. However, 2023 could be his final audition for a starting role.

Your turn.

NEW: Join Pride of Detroit Direct

Jeremy Reisman will drop into your inbox twice a week to provide exclusive, in-depth reporting and insights from Ford Field. Subscribe to go deeper into Lions fandom, and join us on our path to win the Super Bowl.