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3 Lions Position Battles to Watch For in 2020

Our Vito Chirco provides three Lions position battles to watch for in 2020

Lions offseason talk wouldn't be complete without taking a look at some likely position battles for the squad entering the 2020 season.

On this first Monday in May, let's take a look at the three biggest ones that Detroit head coach Matt Patricia will have to deal with as the beginning of training camp approaches, which is presently scheduled to kick off in late July.

1.) Jarrad Davis and Jahlani Tavai battling for snaps at middle linebacker

Davis just had the fifth-year option on his rookie contract declined. It speaks volumes about what the organization thinks about its first-round pick from 2017. 

He's largely been a bust since being selected by Lions general manager Bob Quinn, and subsequently, he's likely not a part of the franchise's long-term plans at the position.

Meanwhile, Tavai -- a second-round pick of Quinn's a year ago -- is still believed to be highly valued within the organization.

The second-year pro was a tackling machine during his final three years at Hawaii. He recorded at least 100 tackles as both a sophomore and junior, and then, averaged more than 10 tackles a game as a senior before suffering a shoulder injury midway through the season.

He proceeded to produce 58 tackles, two sacks, five tackles for loss and a forced fumble in 15 games in his rookie season with the Lions.

Patricia & Co. envision him becoming a tackling machine as his NFL career progresses, and expect him to get more reps than Davis at middle linebacker in 2020.

2.) Jason Huntley and Ty Johnson fighting for the fourth running back job  

Johnson, who was taken in the sixth round of the 2019 draft by Quinn & Co., put together a decent rookie campaign.

He averaged 4.3 yards per carry, and rushed for 273 yards on 63 attempts.

However, it seems like Huntley was taken by Quinn & Co. with the intent to have him replace Johnson as the fourth running back on the Lions' RB depth chart.

Huntley -- the second of two Lions fifth-round picks this year -- likely won't see many carries as a rookie, with Kerryon Johnson, fellow rookie D'Andre Swift and Bo Scarbrough all slotted ahead of him.

However, Huntley could be a valuable asset right away on special teams.

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He recorded five kickoff return touchdowns in his four years at New Mexico State.

It should allow him to beat out Johnson for the No. 4 RB gig, likely costing Johnson a spot on the roster in 2020.

3.) Jonah Jackson and Logan Stenberg fighting for the starting right guard position

Jackson and Stenberg were picked in back-to-back rounds (Jackson in the third and Stenberg in the fourth), and could end up fighting for the same starting job: the one at right guard.

Jackson excelled in pass-blocking while at Ohio State. In fact, he allowed just one combined sack/QB hit on 1,020 career pass-blocking snaps, per Pro Football Focus.  

Then, there's Stenberg, a self-proclaimed "nasty" player.

Stenberg also knows a thing or two about protecting the quarterback.

He finished off his career at Kentucky with a first-team All-SEC selection in 2019, a season in which he failed to allow a sack.

Both Jackson and Stenberg possess the necessary skill set to start right away, which should make the battle for the right guard gig all the more interesting come training camp.


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