What Does DT Mike Daniels Provide for the Lions' Defense?
Mike Daniels signed with Detroit in the offseason following seven seasons in Green Bay.
The eighth-year pro was surprisingly cut by the Packers before the start of training camp.
An injury-ridden 2018 campaign, a new head coach in Matt LaFleur and a bevy of new defenders signed and drafted by the Packers led to Daniels being cut.
Daniels quickly found a new home inside the NFC North with Detroit.
He was expected to be an integral part of a stout defensive line, along with two other Pro Bowlers in Trey Flowers and Damon Harrison and a promising second-year pro in Da’Shawn Hand.
However, Daniels will start just his second game as a Lion Sunday, after suffering a foot injury earlier in the season.
In his four appearances, including one start, Daniels has a sack, quarterback hit, tackle for loss and three total tackles.
That’s a far cry from what the Lions expected to get out of him at this point.
However, with him fully healthy and ready to engage, what can Daniels do for this defense the rest of the way this season?
Coupled with "Snacks," there's potential to dominate the interior
Daniels and Damon “Snacks” Harrison would’ve formed the most fearsome interior line duo in the league two seasons ago.
Despite that not being the case in 2019, it’s still a high-upside tag team in the middle of the defensive line, if the two play up to their potential.
Harrison has begun to find his stride the last two games, and looks to be back to his usual ways -- although not as dominant as in previous years.
Meanwhile, Daniels tallied a sack in his first game back last week against the Bears.
With Flowers & Hand on the edge, this defensive line has a chance to redeem itself with a healthy Daniels back in the fold.
An interior pass rush
When the Lions line up in the nickel, the interior pass rush will come from Daniels and Flowers, with two linebackers coming off the edge.
Two seasons ago, Daniels totaled five sacks, 10 tackles for loss and 14 QB hits in a Pro Bowl campaign.
While Harrison shines as a run-stopper, Daniels couples that ability with a nose for the quarterback in passing-down situations.
There's no secret that the Lions have struggled to get to the quarterback this season.
Daniels gives them a much-needed boost in attempting to aid that weakness.
Another veteran leader
Detroit’s defensive line is arguably the most disappointing aspect of the Lions in 2019.
Thought to be a top-five unit in football coming into the season, the Lions claim a rushing defense ranked just 26th in the league, along with a bottom-half-of-the-league ranking in sacks per game.
Daniels' presence won’t elevate this unit to its once sky-high potential.
However, he adds what we’ve already mentioned with his skillset, along with eight years as a pro, plenty of playoff runs with Green Bay and a plethora of games on the big stage.
While the Lions won’t be on a big stage the rest of this season, Daniels will supplement Hand and A’Shawn Robinson, and help them continue to grow and learn under head coach Matt Patricia.
Not to mention, Daniels gives Patricia flexibility and depth at the position, allowing the Lions to rotate up to seven or eight guys on the line.
Should Daniels return in 2020, he could be one of the defense’s vocal leaders on the field and inside the locker room.