The NFL offseason process has hit a key moment as teams gear up for the 2022 season.
The time for organized team activities, or “OTAs,” has arrived, as teams can hold a total of 10 days’ worth of team practices over the next four weeks. In this time period, there is no live contact allowed, but teams can conduct drills.
The Detroit Lions are scheduled to begin action this week, and will conduct media availability on Thursday. As Dan Campbell begins his second season as head coach, here are eight burning questions heading into OTAs.
Where are injured players at in their recovery timetables?
The Lions lost several key players to injury throughout the 2021 campaign. In Week 1, second-year cornerback Jeff Okudah suffered a torn Achilles. Week 4 saw both Romeo Okwara and Frank Ragnow go down for the year, while Quintez Cephus was lost for the year the following week.
All are looking to get back in action, so it will be interesting to monitor their rehabilitation. Okudah, the third overall pick in 2020, is perhaps the most interesting case. The Ohio State product is heading into a crucial third year.
Okwara and Cephus are also entering crucial seasons, as Detroit made offseason additions through the Draft at their positions. How they return will determine their roles as their respective positions get younger in 2022.
Where do the quarterbacks stand?
Jared Goff returns for his second season as the Lions’ QB1. After struggling to begin his tenure, the 27-year-old picked up the pace and finished the season strong.
There are plenty of questions as to the longevity of the California native when it comes to his future as the starter, and those will likely be answered this season. Consistency and continuity are two important qualities he must show as the offseason progresses.
Detroit made the decision to keep its quarterback room intact from last season, electing to resign both David Blough and Tim Boyle. The battle for the backup spot will be worth an eye as the team evaluates whether to go with Blough or Boyle leading up to this season.
How does Hutchinson stack up?
When OTAs commence, many eyes will be on prized rookie Aidan Hutchinson. The Michigan defensive end was selected No. 2 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft and is seen as an important piece of the Lions’ ongoing rebuild.
This stage of the offseason is an important one for him, as it is the first time he’ll go toe-to-toe with pro offensive linemen. Sure, there won’t be any contact drills, but this offers an opportunity to go full speed against the likes of Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell.
The duo of Decker and Sewell presents a unique challenge for the rookie defensive end. In Decker, the Lions have a seasoned veteran. On the flip side, Sewell is the athletic youngster who just wrapped up a rookie season of his own.
How Hutchinson performs against his teammates will be telling as he ramps up toward his first season as a pro.
Who stands out among the linebackers?
An intriguing position group, Detroit’s linebacking corps will showcase competition heading into 2022. It’s a mix of veterans and youth, as the Lions have a little bit of everything to offer heading into this season.
Recommended Lions Articles
Chris Ilitch Might Be Worse Owner Than Ford Family
Chris Ilitch does not convey any confidence that his sports teams are ever going to turn it around.
Jared Goff's 5 Best NFL Games
SI All Lions provides its rankings of Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff's five best games as a pro.
Ranking Top QB-WR Duos in NFL Entering 2022
SI All Lions gives its rankings of the top quarterback-wide receiver duos entering the 2022 NFL season.
There are veteran options in Alex Anzalone and Jarrad Davis, while Derrick Barnes brings the youth alongside 2022 draft picks Malcolm Rodriguez and James Houston. Chris Board was brought in during free agency as well, giving the Lions plenty of options.
How they stack up and set themselves apart will be intriguing to follow. No final decisions will be made in OTAs, but each player can go a long way toward carving out a place in the rotation.
How do the young stars develop?
The Lions have plenty of young talent heading into 2022. The offense boasts running back D’Andre Swift and tight end T.J. Hockenson, while the defense has cornerback Amani Oruwariye. This trio gives Detroit a skilled trio that remains under team control.
Each of the three has enjoyed a solid start to their careers, but jumps are expected as they enter their next stage of development. For Swift, it’s about becoming the top backfield option. Hockenson will be leaned on in the passing game, while Oruwariye will be looked at as the top player in the defensive backfield.
These young players must become leaders in the locker room. If they are able to do so, it will do wonders as Detroit looks to build a winning culture.
What does Detroit have in its running backs room?
Speaking of Swift, he is part of a running back room that is trying to find the best version of itself heading into 2022. The Georgia product forms one half of a solid 1-2 punch alongside Jamaal Williams, but the duo saw just limited action together due to injury and health issues.
Outside of those two, the Lions need a third option. With Williams and Swift both missing time, several players got chances to prove themselves. Craig Reynolds, Godwin Igwebuike and Jermar Jefferson each had opportunities to showcase their abilities at times in 2021.
Going into this season, finding a reliable third option in the backfield is paramount. Who that will be remains to be seen, but it’s likely that several players will be given a chance.
Does the offensive line continue to gell?
A topic of great optimism surrounding the Lions is their young and talented offensive line. Ragnow anchors the unit at center, Sewell and Decker provide bookends at tackle and Jonah Jackson and Halapoulivaati Vaitai are stable at guard.
The unit has given plenty to be excited about in its brief time together, so much is expected of them heading into this season. How they continue to grow together will be something to see as they buckle down for a second season intact.
Which undrafted free agents will stick out?
After completing rookie minicamp, Detroit’s crop of undrafted free agents will take on OTAs looking for a chance to prove they belong with the best.
There was plenty of talent on display from the undrafted ranks. One player who stole the show was speedy wideout Kalil Pimpleton, a Central Michigan product who burned cornerbacks with his ability to get in and out of routes in a split second.
Every team finds a diamond in the rough, so it’s worth monitoring who Detroit’s will be. The team has holes in its depth on the offensive line, so maybe a player like Michigan State’s Kevin Jarvis could find their way onto the roster.