Lions Must Still Upgrade Pass Rush
One of the major tasks of Detroit general manager Bob Quinn going into this offseason was to rebuild the Lions' struggling defensive line from a year ago.
It became even more apparent after the Lions parted ways with nose tackle Damon "Snacks" Harrison, defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson and EDGE defender Devon Kennard.
Quinn acted quickly in filling two of the subsequent voids.
He added ex-Patriots Danny Shelton -- a replacement for Harrison at nose tackle -- and Jamie Collins -- a veteran linebacker that can play on the inside, in coverage and periodically slide into the EDGE defender role previously occupied by Kennard.
The next big step for Quinn to take is to add more pass-rushing depth along the D-line.
In 2019, Lions head man Matt Patricia's defense consistently failed to get to the quarterback, contributing to the team's league-worst pass defense.
Opponents threw for an average of 284.4 yards per game a season ago.
Detroit's best returning pass rusher is Trey Flowers, another ex-Patriot who was an offseason acquisition of Quinn's in '19.
The Arkansas product -- who will be 27 come the start of the 2020 regular season -- has recorded at least seven sacks each of the past two seasons, including seven last year.
Sure, it'd be nice for Patricia & Co. to get another solid season out of Flowers. However, it will take more than that in order for the Lions to turn it around from a pass-rush perspective.
As The MMQB's Andy Benoit writes,
"Jamie Collins and Jarrad Davis can both prosper in a highly schemed rush, as can Trey Flowers and (granted, to a lesser degree) Romeo Okwara. That’s only four pass rushers—so yes, maybe the Lions could use one more (though Patricia, much more than Belichick, is often willing to rush only three). But most likely Patricia and GM Bob Quinn will find it more pertinent to use their early-to-mid-round picks on offense."
In a perfect world, Detroit would land Ohio State product Chase Young -- the prized pass rusher of the 2020 draft class -- at No. 3 overall.
However, that's not likely to happen, as Young is almost a lock to go to the Washington Redskins with the No. 2 overall selection.
The next pass rusher for the Lions to potentially target with the pick is former Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown.
As SI All Lions' John Maakaron writes,
"He has a variety of pass-rush moves, including a devastating bull rush.
Playing in the SEC, Brown has lined up against plenty of future NFL linemen, and still has managed to stand out from both a power and quickness perspective."
If Detroit's front office is serious about upgrading its pass rush with its first-round selection, both Young and Brown are slam-dunk choices.
However, as it's been stated plenty of times already on this site -- including recently by yours truly -- former Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah has increasingly become a consensus pick for the organization at No. 3.
It's why the second round -- pick No. 35 -- has become a popular spot in the draft for Quinn & Co. to further address the franchise's anemic pass rush from last year.
The Lions couldn't go wrong with either player, as both would provide an instant and much-needed boost in the pass-rush department.
Expect to hear each of their names be thrown around more and more by Lions fans and pundits alike as the 2020 NFL Draft -- set to kick off April 23 -- draws nearer.
For MMQB's look at the entire NFC North, click here.