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Does the Lions’ Core Group of Young Players Measure Up?

Are you confident in Detroit's core nucleus of young players?

If the Lions are going to turn the page on a disastrous 2019 season, they are going to have to count on a younger nucleus of players going forward.

Detroit general manager Bob Quinn has noticeably worked to make the roster younger on defense the past two seasons.

The benefits include having less expensive players on the roster that are more willing to buy into the coaching style and practices of head coach Matt Patricia.

In reviewing the core nucleus of the Lions, though, a glaring question pops up.

Are these players that make up the nucleus elite?

You would be hard-pressed to find those who believe Detroit’s roster has enough high-end talent.

Wide receiver Kenny Golladay is the team’s best bet for a player to sustain an elite level of play for several more seasons.

Outside of Golladay, there remains several question marks regarding the potential of Detroit’s young cast of players -- both on offense and defense.

Arguably, Quinn took the biggest gamble of his career by choosing to select a tight end with the eighth pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft -- T.J. Hockenson. 

Hockenson showed early flashes of brilliance, but was unable to sustain a consistent level of productivity during his rookie campaign.

Running back Kerryon Johnson -- the Lions' second-round selection in 2018 -- is dangerously close to becoming labeled “injury-prone.”

During his first two seasons, Johnson was not able to remain on the field consistently.

Meanwhile, center Frank Ragnow -- Detroit's first-rounder in 2018 -- is considered the cornerstone of the offensive line.

According to Chris Burke of The Athletic, “There were signs last season that he might soon be one of the game’s better centers. The Lions want to run the football, and they need to keep Matthew Stafford’s pocket clean up the middle. If Ragnow excels in both areas, the offense can thrive.”

Detroit’s "emerging" core group on defense is where the biggest question marks lie.

Linebackers Jahlani Tavai and Jarrad Davis did not perform at the level needed for the Lions to have consistent success in 2019.

So, can they coexist moving forward?

It is highly likely some changes will take place in the linebackers' room this offseason.

One of the biggest disappointments of 2019 was the production of defensive tackle Da’Shawn Hand.

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Hand missed 13 games in 2019, and was unable to contribute to a defensive line that desperately needed playmakers.

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Rookie Austin Bryant battled injuries throughout his rookie season, and only played in four games. 

He will be a player that Detroit hopes to see emerge in his second season in the league.

As for safety Will Harris and cornerback Amani Oruwariye , will they be able to take a step forward in their second seasons?

Both will be given more responsibilities going forward in order to showcase their abilities playing in the secondary.

While there are more question marks than answers, Detroit does have a young nucleus emerging.

Many remain skeptical, however, that this core is talented enough to play at a high level in the NFL.

Fortunately for Quinn, he has one more opportunity to draft a class of players that will complement and push the nucleus in a positive direction. 

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