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Final Lions Grades

Our Logan Lamorandier hands out his end-of-season grades for Lions' positional groups

Now that the 2019 Lions season has concluded, it's time to take a look back at each position group and grade how they fared. 

The year as a whole was a major disappointment, but that's not to say that it was all bad. 

There were a few bright spots, and plenty of negatives to go along with them.


Matthew Stafford was having a career year before being sidelined with his back injury. 

His 106.0 rating was the highest of his career and the sixth-highest mark of all NFL quarterbacks in 2019. 

The lack of team wins kept him out of the early MVP race, but he was having a season worthy of MVP consideration.

Now, Jeff Driskel played decently well for a backup in spot duty, and undrafted rookie free agent David Blough probably exceeded expectations. 

Both, though, had a tendency to hold onto the ball too long, which forced the offensive line into some difficult situations. 

The backups had their struggles, but you can't ask for much more given the difficult circumstances.



This group got off to a slow start. 

The surprise performance of midseason acquisition Bo Scarbrough really brought some life into the backfield. 

It actually appeared like the Lions had a semblance of a run game with him in the lineup. Scarbrough averaged 3.2 yards after contact to go along with a 4.2 yards per carry average.

Ty Johnson had some flashes, and at least contributed at times -- not horrible for a late-round draft pick. 

J.D. McKissic, meanwhile, was another waiver wire pickup, and he acquitted himself quite well in the gadget role. He made the departure of former pass-catching specialist Theo Riddick much more palatable.



The wide receivers had a really nice year. 

Kenny Golladay led the NFL in touchdown receptions (11), and Marvin Jones was always biting at Golladay's heels for the TD lead before landing on injured reserve. 

Neither created much separation, and they still came down with contested catches on a regular basis.

Perhaps the most underappreciated wideout of the group was first-year Lions wideout Danny Amendola. He was a nice security blanket, and did nice work out of the slot. 

Amendola played well enough that the Lions turned to more three-wide sets as the season progressed.

I would be remiss if I didn't also mention Marvin Hall. 

He was consistently a big play waiting to happen and a true deep-ball specialist with limited opportunities. He averaged 37.3 yards per catch on seven receptions.



On offense, this group was the biggest disappointment. 

Quinn spent a great deal of money and draft capital to overhaul the position. 

Tight ends take time to develop, but rookie T.J. Hockenson disappeared in too many games. 

Any time you draft a player in the top 10, you hope for more than one great game. 

Unfortunately, tight ends historically struggle in their first year, and this year was no different for Hockenson. 

He still has a very bright future ahead of him. Yet, I wish he was utilized a little more and was able to come down with a few more of those difficult, yet catchable passes.

Jesse James was one of the bigger free-agent signings this past offseason, and made next-to-zero impact. Even after Hockenson went down, he was outplayed by Logan Thomas. 

And for a third tight end, Thomas was a decent option in the passing game.



Collectively, the offensive line did about what was expected. 

Each individual across the front had some solid performances, as well as some clunkers. 

Taylor Decker had his moments, and it's fair to say he was an average-to-slightly above average left tackle in 2019. 

It could have been better, yet could have also been worse. 

As for Rick Wagner, he continued to not live up to his big-money contract at right tackle.

On the interior, both Frank Ragnow and Graham Glasgow did their part. 

It's a good-looking duo for the future, if Detroit general manager Bob Quinn doesn't let Glasgow slip away in free agency. 

I still don't understand the three-guard rotation that Matt Patricia deployed. 

Joe Dahl played above his paygrade as a first-time "starter."


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The biggest strength of the team in the preseason ended up being one of the biggest weaknesses by season's end. 

To be fair, injuries really hindered the group. 

Damon "Snacks" Harrison battled all year with nagging physical ailments, and looked nothing close to his dominant run-stopping self. 

Both Mike Daniels and Da'Shawn Hand barely played. 

A'Shawn Robinson struggled without talent around him. 

He had a breakout season last year -- especially with the arrival of Harrison -- and couldn't repeat it.

On the edge, Trey Flowers started off slow due to his offseason shoulder surgery. 

He got in a groove towards the end of the year, and ended up producing the type of numbers he put up in New England. 

As a team, the Lions finished tied for second-fewest sacks (28) in the league.

This was a group that struggled to stop the run and to rush the passer, with no help from head coach Matt Patricia's fraudulent scheme.

Given the incredibly high expectations, I had no choice but to give the defensive line a failing grade for its hugely disappointing performance this season.



The linebackers were a liability for a large majority of the 2019 season. 

Of course, Jarrad Davis showed some flashes of greatness toward the end of the season, yet struggled most of the year. 

Christian Jones, meanwhile, was the definition of a solid scheme-fit that can line up anywhere. 

Unfortunately, he may be a jack-of-all trades, yet a master of none. 

Both Davis and Jones landed in the bottom 10 for off-ball linebacker grades, per Pro Football Focus.

As for Jahlani Tavai, he was a second-round pick that played well when his number was called. 

Much like his aforementioned counterparts, he struggled in space, and is a major liability when guarding running backs and tight ends one-on-one. 

I'll give Tavai some credit, though, as he looked better than I thought he would at the time of the 2019 draft.

I'm including Devon Kennard in this group as well, as he is technically a linebacker. More of an EDGE defender, Kennard was a consistently productive player on a week-to-week basis. 

In my mind, he should only be a rotational pass rusher, but he was the best the Lions had to offer in 2019.



The cornerbacks started off the year strong. They were sticky in coverage, although they weren't given any help by the devoid Detroit pass rush. 

Going into Week 17, Darius Slay, Justin Coleman and Rashaan Melvin were the only three cornerbacks in the NFL to each have at least 10 pass break-ups. 

I will admit I am being a little more lenient with the CBs due to the Lions' front four getting no pressure on the quarterback all season long. 

It would've been really difficult for any corner to look great in this defense.

Slay is a Pro Bowler for the third consecutive season. 

Maybe he didn't put up the gaudy numbers in the interception department, but he still limited opponents' best receivers and his season-ending numbers still stack up with the best of them at the position. 

Rookie Amani Oruwariye had two great interceptions. 

He still has some learning to do, but you can tell he has that playmaking gene inside of him -- something the Lions desperately need.



The leader and face of the safety room changed dramatically after the trade of Quandre Diggs. 

Tracy Walker continued to flash great potential, and looked like a really nice piece to build around. 

Meanwhile, veteran Tavon Wilson had some really nice games as well, especially near the line of scrimmage.

Wilson and Walker both finished the season with 90 or more tackles -- the first time in franchise history to have a safety duo with 90-plus tackles. 

Good for them, but a bad look for the front seven.

As for third-round pick Will Harris, he had plenty of struggles. 

His performance in Week 17 against the Packers was probably his best of the season. 

I still would like to see a little more aptitude in coverage and playmaking ability from him, but he wasn't necessarily that guy while in college, either.



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