After Detroit Lions defensive tackle Da’Shawn Hand’s impressive rookie season, he appeared to be a long-term staple on the interior.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case for the past couple of years. Important to note, injuries have definitely played a role in Hand’s regression.
Hand played predominantly in a gap-control scheme throughout his college career and while under former Lions head coach Matt Patricia. Now, in a new defensive scheme, how exactly will Hand fit, and is there a possibility his game improves?
Or could he even revert back to a rookie-year type of performance, during which he ranked as the 17th-best interior defensive lineman, according to Pro Football Focus? During that season, he also had 25 total pressures. Yet, he only has nine combined between the last two years.
As Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus wrote about Hand before last 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."
As Linsey then added, "Hand saw his role shrink in 2019 down to just over 100 snaps."
Needless to say, expectations for Hand’s 2021 season are a bit of an enigma.
And, it's certainly true that bringing out the best of Hand’s ability could go a long way for not only the defensive line, but potentially for the future of the team, as well.
Playing well this season will be ultra important for Hand, as well, considering he is in the last year of his contract.
If Hand has one thing going for him, it’s his athletic ability.
In the two-gapping system he was in the first three years of his career, it rarely allowed for him to shoot gaps while utilizing his quickness.
In fact, he only has two tackles for loss the last two seasons.
In all likelihood, new defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn will run a much more aggressive scheme, with a defensive front similar to the attacking style of the Los Angeles Rams.
It’s an unknown at this time where and how Hand will perform in a new defense. But, it sure seems like he has the talent to flourish in the system.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle will be Hand’s ability – or lack thereof – to remain healthy.
All in all, Hand is a bit of a forgotten man on the D-line.
However, his potential and a fresh start with a new coaching staff could be the catalysts for Hand having a bounce-back season.
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