Why Da'Shawn Hand Is Detroit's Wild Card Along the Defensive Line
No question, the Detroit Lions were one of the worst teams in the NFL last season at getting to the quarterback.
Defensive tackle Da'Shawn Hand appeared to be a promising addition to the Lions' defensive line based upon his rookie season in 2018.
However, an injury-riddled 2019 campaign has now turned that promise into a question mark, as Detroit has reshaped its defensive line heading into 2020.
Ex-Patriots defensive lineman Danny Shelton will likely be the starting nose tackle, but Hand and Nick Williams will be competing for snaps along the interior of the defensive line.
Williams signed with the Lions in the offseason after securing six sacks, 42 tackles, two fumble recoveries and two pass breakups in 2019.
Prior to Detroit, Williams also had stops with the Bears, Chiefs and Dolphins.
Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus believes the Lions' defensive line will be in good shape if Hand can return to the form he displayed his rookie season.
"He got off to a tremendous start to his career as a rookie in 2018, earning an 85.9 overall grade and contributing as both a run defender and a pass rusher. Hand saw his role shrink in 2019 down to just over 100 snaps, but if he can put up a similar performance to what we saw from him as a rookie, the Lions' defensive line will be in good shape."
Hand was productive during his rookie campaign, recording 27 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles in 13 games.
His speed along the interior of the defensive line could cause matchup issues for the offensive line of opponents.
If he can return to form and stay healthy, the former fourth-round pick can rebound from a disappointing sophomore campaign.