Detroit Lions’ concern level at each position group on defense

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The Detroit Lions have made significant strides in enhancing their defense for the 2024 season under general manager Brad Holmes. Despite a strong run defense last season, their pass defense struggled significantly, ranking 27th in the league, and their pass-rush was among the bottom ten. These are crucial areas that needed addressing to position the team for a potential Super Bowl run.

 

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the current concern levels for each defensive position group:

Interior Defensive Line: Medium Concern

  • Alim McNeill: Coming off a career-best season, McNeill needs to prove his performance was sustainable.
  • D.J. Reader: A key addition known for his prowess in both run defense and pass-rushing. However, his injury history is a concern.
  • Depth Players: Levi Onwuzurike and Brodric Martin both have to demonstrate their reliability. Onwuzurike’s injury history and Martin’s limited playtime (only three games last season) are potential issues.
  • Mekhi Wingo: The rookie’s contributions are uncertain, which adds to the medium concern level.

Edge Rushers: High Concern

  • Aidan Hutchinson: A standout young pass-rusher expected to improve further in his third year.
  • Marcus Davenport: Another significant addition, but his injury concerns are notable.
  • Depth: John Cominsky and Josh Paschal offer solid depth but aren’t equipped to handle major roles if injuries arise.
  • Overall: Given the importance of a strong pass-rush, adding another capable rusher would significantly reduce the concern level here.

Linebackers: No Concern

  • Alex Anzalone: Leads a promising group.
  • Jack Campbell: Had an impressive rookie year and is expected to progress.
  • Derrick Barnes: Coming off a career-best season, needs to maintain his performance.
  • Malcolm Rodriguez: Provides excellent depth off the bench.
  • Overall: This group is well-rounded with emerging talents and reliable veterans, leading to no concern in this area.

Cornerbacks: Medium Concern

  • Brian Branch: Despite an excellent rookie season, his offseason surgery is a concern for the start of the season.
  • Rookies: Terrion Arnold and Ennis Rakestraw have potential, but their immediate impact is uncertain.
  • Depth: Amik Robertson offers flexibility and insurance across multiple roles.
  • Emmanuel Moseley: Recovering from his second ACL tear, which raises questions about his availability.
  • Carlton Davis: The standout alpha of the group, providing stability.
  • Overall: While there are promising options, the health and immediate contributions of key players keep the concern level at medium.

Safety: Medium Concern

  • Kerby Joseph and Ifeatu Melifonwu: Both played well last season but have injury concerns and limited starting experience.
  • Brian Branch: Acts as an insurance policy, but his health recovery is vital.
  • Overall: Adding more depth would be beneficial to mitigate injury risks and ensure stability.

Conclusion

The  have addressed several defensive needs, yet some areas still present medium to high concerns, particularly the edge rushers and the depth in the secondary. Continued development from young players and the addition of reliable depth could significantly bolster their defensive unit and enhance their Super Bowl aspirations.