My NFC North Roster Grades
Scoring System Summary - A+ = 10 D+ = 1 , All scores are added up then the average is found giving the score out of 10.
Overall Grade – B+ 6.8
Quarterback – B+
- Kirk Cousins finally overcame the huge shadow looming over his career in 2019 by winning his first play-off game, opening the doors for his critics to finally give him the credit he deserves. On course to a 10-5 record Cousins threw for 26 touchdowns to only 6 interceptions. While he only threw for 3,603 yards, Stefanski’s offense saw the Vikings finish 6th in rushing yards per game, meaning the offense didn’t allow for Cousins to fill the stats sheet in yards. Despite not filling the stat sheets Cousins finished 4th in Quarterback Rating, 7th in yards per attempt, 5th in completion percentage with 69.1%, 5th in on target throws and 2nd in 3rd down conversion percentage, proving that although the offense was run through Dalvin Cook he still performed at a very high level.
Running Backs – A-
- Dalvin Cook is undoubtably one of the league’s top running backs, possessing natural elusiveness, contact balance and small space quickness. As a rookie he averaged 88.5 yards per game but only played 4 games due to injury which kept him out again in 2018. In 2019 he got his chance as the starter averaging 81.1 yards per game for 1,135 total yards and 13 touchdowns, as well as 519 receiving yards out the backfield. Cook is a monster and will continue to be the focal point of the Vikings offense. Alexander Mattison is a very nice back up, in his rookie year in 2019 he averaged 4.6 yards per carry the same as Cook but for 462 yards. Hence, if Cook goes down again the Vikings are in good hands.
Wide Receivers – B+
- The NFL seems to have forgotten that Adam Thielen exists despite him tying Calvin Johnsons NFL record of 8 consecutive games with over 100 receiving yards in 2018. Not only did he have a historical start to the year, but he caught 15 of 20 targets for 6 touchdowns in the RedZone and ranked 8th in catch percentage and 4th in first downs on 3rd & 4th downs as well as 5th in total catch percentage with over 80 targets. He struggled with a hamstring injury in 2019 but Thielen is a true gym rat and it’s how he turned his career from being an undrafted free agent to top 10 receiver in the NFL, he has polished every aspect of his game making him in my opinion one of the NFL’s most complete wide receivers. Thielen has great technical skills such as route-running, footwork and hands as well as raw speed and athleticism. The Vikings used the 1stround pick they got for Stefon Diggs to draft Justin Jefferson in the 2020 draft, Jefferson is a slot monster who can win contested catches and make guys miss in space, he is a good route runner but still needs to develop it if he wants to become a legitimate outside receiver. Olabisi Johnson and Tajae Sharp will fight for the 3rd receiver spot, while Sharpe has pretty much shown what he is at this point in his career, Johnson still has some potential after a decent rookie season.
Tight Ends - B
- The Vikings have a good tight end duo which makes their offense equipped for almost any situation. Rudolph is great on 3rd downs as well as in the RedZone. Although Rudolph is not particularly fast or the best route runner his 6ft 6, 265lb frame allows his win jump balls and contested catches. Rudolph was more of the traditional tight end who is more of a safety blanket with secure hands in 2019. Rudolph showed the extent of his secure hands by leading the league in catch percentage in 2019 with 84.4%. Whereas Irv Smith Jr can bring the athleticism and route running to win on 1st and 2nd downs. Smith has great hands dropping only 2.1% of his passes in 2019 which ranked 8th best in the NFL as well as also catching 78.3% of his targets, a number which hardly fell when targeted on 3rd downs and in the RedZone. What makes Smith a potential great tight end is the fact he truly is a complete tight end. At 6ft 2, 242 lbs Smith provides quickness and agility with the ball in his hands, he can get separation in man coverage and what elevates him amongst a lot of receiving tight ends in my opinion is his great blocking ability in both the run and pass game.
Offensive Line – C+
- Minnesota as invested serious draft capital in their offensive line in the past 3 off seasons, spending a 2nd round pick on both Brian O’Neill in 2018 and Erza Cleveland in 2020 as well as the 18th overall pick in 2019 on Garrett Bradbury. O’Neill has developed into a good starting tackle who can block the run and pass, Bradbury had a nice rookie season but struggled at times when pass blocking. Cleveland is an athletic left tackle who can make all the blocks in the run game but needs to add additional strength and mass to hold up as a starter according to scouts. Reiff and Elflein round off the Vikings offensive line, Reiff is an 8-year veteran who can actually block the run and pass at a good level, whereas Elflein has struggled since entering the league in 2017 but has evolved into a nice run blocker. It should also be noted that Stefanski’s offensive scheme favours the zone blocking run system which has likely allowed the Vikings offensive line to flourish.
Corner Backs - C
- Mike Zimmer loves a defensive back which is why the Vikings have spent a plethora of picks on them in recent years. Although the Vikings don’t have one guy who stands out from the rest as a number one or two corner, they have 5 talented young corners with huge potential. Mike Hughes was the 30th overall pick in 2018 and while he has played very well, he has only seen limited snaps in his first 2 seasons. Jeff Gladney was drafted 31st overall this offseason, Gladney is a great cover corner with elite competitive mentality, he has the athleticism to track receivers all though the route tree, the ball skills to make plays and technical ability to cover, however, at times is desire to make plays similar to Marcus Peters can lead him to be baited. Both Holton Hill and Kris Boyd played limited snaps in 2019 but showed some nice flashes. Cameron Dantzler like Gladney was drafted this offseason but in the 3rd round. Dantzler is a very long corner with a great competitive mentality like Gladney, Dantzler can cover very well all through the route tree relying on his athleticism, size and technical ability, however, he is not good tackler and is a risk against the run.
Safeties – A+
- Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris are the best safety duo in football, and it isn’t even close. Smith has been consistently one of the best safeties in the NFL for 5 years now and is an elite cover and run safety with the ability to create turnovers with interceptions or forced fumbles. Anthony Harris is a very underrated safety but has been elite in coverage for 2 years now, Harris had 6 interceptions in 2019 as well as allowing only 44.2 quarterback rating when targeted.
Edge Rushers – A+
- The Vikings addition of Yannick Ngakoue gives them arguably the best edge rusher duo in the NFL.
Last 2 seasons:
Danielle Hunter, 29 Sacks, 41 QB Hits, 36 Tackles For Loss.
Yannick Ngakoue, 17.5 Sacks, 48 QB Hits, 26 Tackles For Loss.
Danielle Hunter has evolved into an elite edge rusher who is also a great run defender and while Ngakoue might not be a good run defender he is one of the NFLs more underrated pass rushers. Ifeadi Odenigbo is also a great rotational rusher, he finished 2019 with 7 sacks in only 368 snaps. In a stacked division the Vikings addition of Ngakoue could truly be the difference between 1st and 2nd place.
Interior Defensive Line – C+
- Michael Pierce opting out is a big loss, the Vikings signed him this offseason to replace Linval Joseph’s presence in the interior, Pierce was an elite two down run stopper and now Minnesota will look to Jaleel Johnson and Shamar Stephen both of whom are back up guys who will be expected to become starters in 2020.
Linebackers - A
- Eric Kendricks had a breakout season in 2019 which saw him make both the Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro whilst also proving that he is not only an elite coverage linebacker but also an elite run defender. Kendricks finished the 2019 campaign with 14 forced incompletions which ranked 1st among linebackers and 5th in all of football. Kendricks only allowed 53.3% of his targets to be completed which is incredible. Anthony Barr is in my opinion overrated, he hasn’t reached the heights of his elite season in 2015, however, he has managed to make 4 straight Pro Bowls and is a durable starter. Eric Wilson, Bed Gideon and rookie Troy Dye all provide some great depth and potential to the unit.
Green Bay Packers
Overall Grade – B+ 6.6
Quarterback - A
While Aaron Rodgers stats may be on the decline, I still believe he is a top 5 quarterback in the NFL. It appears to be overlooked that in 2019 he was adjusting to an entirely new offense while trying to build a repour with his inexperienced receivers with his number one receiver out for 4 games. Rodgers struggled to get on the same page as his receivers all year wrong as emphasised by the 2nd and 3rd highest catches on the offense being running backs Aaron Jones and Jamal Williams. Despite Rodgers’ difficulties adjusting to the offense he still threw for 4,002 yards with 26 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions. While Jordan Love is apparently disappointing in training camp its very unlikely he will see the field for two more season and when you pair is elite raw arm talent with the fact that he will have the opportunity to learn under arguably the most talented quarterback of all-time his potential soars even higher.
Running Backs – A-
- Aaron Jones similar to Nick Chubb is very underrated, apart from in Green Bay. Although Jones showed the potential to be a great back in 2017 and 2018, averaging 5.5 yards per carry on 214 attempts, it was only this past year that he was made the number one running back. Jones ranked very well across the board in all stats and finishing 1st in touchdowns and broken tackles is very impressive given he ranked 15th in carries. The only knock on Jones is that he’s not great at forcing missed tackles and doesn’t display the short space quickness and cuts that some of the elite running backs do. Drafting A.J. Dillon got the Packers a lot of stick but comparisons are starting to be thrown around of Derrick Henry 2.0, at 6ft and 247 lbs he is a very similar weight to Henry and only 3 inches smaller, overall, Dillon is built like a bus but has the vision and agility to make guys miss when needed. Dillon has also shown his capability of large workloads carrying 845 times in 3 seasons at Boston College. It will be interesting to see who starts around week 8 and whether the Packers resign Jones this offseason or not.
Wide Receivers – B+
- Davante Adams is the best all-round and consistent route-runner in the NFL as well as having the undisputed best release in the league. Davante is not a freaky athlete like Julio, Tyreek or Evans but he one of the best technical receivers I’ve ever seen, that is not to say he is unathletic by any means, he has incredible short space speed as well change of direction and change of speed coming in and out of routes. His skill set allows him to be a threat everywhere on the field, and he is great in every single situation and he finished 6th in Yards Per Route Run with over 50 targets. Adams is an elite RedZone threat with 17 touchdowns over the last 2 seasons and clutch on 3rd & 4th downs, 33 targets, 67% completion and 21 first downs on 3rd & 4thdowns. That elite clutch ability was truly exposed in the 2019 play-offs against the Seahawks and 49ers, Adams caught 17 of his 22 targets, 77% completions for 149 receiving yards per game. Funchess opting out renders one of their offseason additions obsolete, but Alan Lazard is potential breakout star in 2020. After a good 2019 season in which Lazard caught 35 balls for 477 yards he has the potential to become a true number two receiver in 2020, Lazard was also great on 3rd and 4th downs in 2019 catching 14 of 21 targets for 13 first down, showing that he has earnt Rodgers’ trust. Valdes-Scantling is a decent 3rd option with big play potential averaging 17.4 yards per catch in 2019.
Tight Ends - C
- Jace Sternberger has some good potential but only started 1 of 6 games in 2019 so evaluating him is very difficult. The Packers drafted Josiah Deguara this offseason in the 3rd round, Deguara is a great hard-nosed blocker with some great sure handed ability and knowledge for soft spots as a receiver but he struggles with contested catches and has a small catch radius.
Offensive Line – A-
- Green Bay has a great pass blocking offensive line to protect their elite quarterback. David Bakhtiari is an elite tackle and one of the leagues bests, while he is not the greatest run blocker it’s hard to find a better pass blocker in the NFL than Bakhtiari. Replacing Bulaga with Wagner was a nice move as like Bulaga he is a very good pass blocker. In the interior Linsley is a good balanced starter at center, Jenkins will look to continue to build off a great rookie season and Turner will look to show he was worth the 4-year $28 million contract the Packers gave him in 2019.
Corner Backs – B+
- Jaire Alexander is living up to his 18th overall pick, he is developing into a true lock down corner, finishing 2nd in PBUs in 2019 as well as playing great in coverage all season long. Kevin King, Josh Jackson and Chandon Sullivan will fight for the 2nd and 3rd spots at corner. Jackson and King are both average cornerbacks with the ability to develop into good starters and Sullivan played very little in 2019 but had some consistent flashes of nice play in coverage.
Safeties – B+
- Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos form a great safety duo, Savage was the 21st overall pick in 2019 and had a great rookie season in coverage finishing with a 56.7% completion percentage allowed and 2 interceptions. Adrian Amos is a 5-year veteran and will help Savage improve, Amos was elite in 2017 but has slowly regressed since, he was great in 2018 and good in 2019. Assuming Amos can return to his great or elite play and Savage develops further the Packers could have an elite safety tandem.
Edge Rushers – B+
- The Smith brothers were the Packers big additions in 2019 free agency and it’s safe to say they were great investments. Preston Smith finished the season with 12 sacks and Za’Darius Smith finished with 13.5 and a Pro Bowl selection. Za’Darius has 22 sacks, 27 tackles for loss and 62 quarterback hits over the last two seasons and is slowly making a name for himself. Rashan Gary is also an underrated X-Factor for this unit, Gary was drafted 12th overall in the 2019 draft but didn’t start a game in 2019 and only played 256 snaps despite being active all season. If Gary can develop into the player, he was supposed to this unit with have a great rotational run defender and pass rusher.
Interior Defensive Line – B+
- Kenny Clark might not have the best numbers among interior lineman with 12 sacks and 17 tackles for loss over the last two seasons but if you ask opposing teams, they know all about him. Clark is an elite interior rusher and run defender and will cause chaos for offensive lines. Dean Lowry will start alongside Clark and while he has little pass rush presence, he is a good interior run stopper. Tyler Lancaster started 10 games in 2019 and will be a nice rotational run defender for the Packers in 2020.
Linebackers - C
- Signing Christian Kirksey to a 2-year $16 million deal was not a good move but a necessary one as the Packers lost their linebacker core in the offseason. Kirksey hasn’t been great for 2 years now due to injury struggles that saw him play only 9 out of 32 games. When healthy he is a nice run defender but has struggled in coverage his whole career. Kamal Martin was drafted in the 5thround this offseason and will likely be thrusted into the starting role, he is a decent athlete but has some struggles in coverage and against elusive backs, meaning as a whole the Packers linebackers will be a target for opposing offenses.
Overall Grade – B 6.1
Quarterback – C-
- Trubisky will forever be a tough pill to swallow for Bears fans, not only did they pass up on both Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, but they traded up to 2nd overall to pick Trubisky. Personally, I believe Trubisky has very fragile confidence and I don’t think it has ever fully repaired after he was booed at the Boston Celtics vs Chicago Bulls game. Trubisky knows he has an elite defense and undoubtably hears the rumblings from his own fans and the media which was highlighted when he asked for all NFL shows to be tuned off in the Bears facility. I think Trubisky’s downfall is his head not his natural ability. He possesses a lot of the tools for a good young quarterback but too often does he almost blackout, not read pressures, throw to double covered receivers or over and under throw open receivers by a mile. 2020 is a big year for Trubisky and I hope he can overcome his confidence issues. Bringing in Nick Foles was a wise move in my mind as Foles may have had arguably the best two games in NFL play-off history on his way to winning Super Bowl 52 in 2018, followed by another good season with the Eagles after Wentz went down again but his storybook career took a big hit in 2019 after getting injured in week 1 before being given his job back in week 11 only to lose it after 3 straight losses to Gardner Minshew II. Foles’ career as a starting quarterback hangs on a needle thread going into 2020 meaning he will fight hard to dethrone Trubisky as the Bears starter.
Running Backs – B-
- David Montgomery had 889 yards in his rookie season despite starting only 8 out of 16 games. Lots of analysts have Montgomery primed for a huge year in 2020 as the Bears lead back. If Montgomery can pick up the mantel and perform the Bears could have their future running back. Tarik Cohen adds another dimension to the Bears offense and running back room. He had 725 receiving yards in 2018 and 456 in 2019. While he is not much of a running threat due to his size, at 5ft 6 with his blazing speed he causes a mismatch for nearly all linebackers.
Wide Receivers - B
- Allen Robinson II was the one bright spot in the Bears’ offense in 2019 and finally lived up to the big contract he signed in 2018 with Chicago. Robinson was the man Trubisky looked to when pressure came which is presented by his 153 total targets and 50 on 3rd & 4th downs, it’s safe to say Robinson came up big for Trubisky more often than not. Robinson is not the best route runner or after the catch, but he is one of the league’s best jump ball receivers with great hands whether he is covered or not. Robinson finished 2019 with 26 contested catches which tied for first in the NFL, he was also 1 of 3 receiver with 5 touchdowns on goal to go situations proving his worth as a RedZone threat. Anthony Miller developed well in his second-year finishing with 656 yards, if he can continue to develop, the 2018 2nd round pick could become a true number two receiver. The Bears 3rd option is Tedd Ginn Jr a 13-year veteran, while he is not great anymore, he is still a decent receiver. Cordell Patterson and Riley Ridley round off the group and while Patterson is mainly a trick player for Nagy to use on gadget plays, Ridley has some good potential.
Tight Ends – C+
- Jimmy Graham hasn’t been the same guy since 2017 and he’s now 33, although he is 6ft 7 he lacks the athleticism that once made him an elite mismatch for defenses. Cole Kmet was the Bears 2nd round pick this offseason and he has great potential, Kmet needs to develop as a blocker but is a good receiver with separation speed and good ball skills, however, he is often jammed at the release and slowed by press coverage which could be a concern at the NFL level. Harris is the Bears 3rd tight end and at 6ft 7 with his incredible athleticism he can cause mismatches but has never eclipsed 224 yards in his 6-year career.
Offensive Line – B-
- Chicago has a decent offensive line, but it is nothing special. Charles Leno Jr has a poor season in 2019 but is usually a very good pass blocker at the left tackle spot. Bobby Massie plays opposite Leno and while he is a nice starting tackle, he is a relatively average run blocker and slightly above average pass blocker. The interior of the Bears offensive line has some great potential, James Daniels will reportedly return to guard after playing 2019 at center with Whitehair returning to center. Regardless, both are very versatile and can play the guard or center spot at a high level. Ifedi will start at the other guard spot and while he hasn’t lived up to his 31st overall pick in the 2016 draft he is an average starter and will fill the gap for a year.
Corner Backs - B
- Kyle Fuller has stepped up to the mantle and proven he is a legitimate number one corner, over the past two seasons Fuller has totalled 10 interceptions, 33 Passes defended, 2 Pro Bowls and 1 First Team All-Pro. However, the Bears haven’t replaced Callahan and Amukamara so they will rely on Skrine and rookie Jaylen Johnson to start in 2020. Skrine has had a 9-year career but has played for Cleveland and the Jets, so while he has started a lot of games, they were all for awful franchises. Johnson has a skillset that when developed will allow him to lock down number one receivers, Johnson has the size, length and strength to force receivers to work at the release as well as the footwork and speed to follow them throughout their routes.
Safeties - A
- Although Eddie Jackson regressed a little in 2019 there is no doubt that he is an elite safety. There aren’t many better cover safeties in the NFL than Jackson, in 2018 he had 15 passes defended, 6 interceptions, allowed a 40.5 passer rating and 50% completion percentage when targeted, all on the way to making a Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro. I believe Jackson will return to this form in 2020. Gipson Sr is an 8-year veteran who was part of the Jaguars elite defense a few years ago, he is a nice starting safety who can take the ball away.
Edge Rushers – A+
- Khalil Mack is a future Hall of Famer without a doubt in my mind,
Last 5 seasons:
5 Pro Bowls
3 First Team All-Pro
1 Defensive Player of the Year
70 Tackles for Loss
104 Quarterback Hits
Mack is a game changer and with Robert Quinn now opposite him the pair are going to destroy defenses. Robert Quinn is a 9-year veteran who once had a 19-sack season, in 2019 he totalled 11.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss and 22 quarterback hits. Quinn played opposite Lawrence in 2019 and now he will play opposite one of the best in the game, Quinn will see single coverage almost all year long and as shown in 2019 he will feast on it.
Interior Defensive Line - A
- Akiem Hicks missed most of 2019 due to injury, the 8-year veteran had 23 sacks and 38 tackles for loss between 2016-18, when healthy in 2020 he will likely return to his great form and cause havoc from the interior. Bilal Nichols had a nice rookie year, but he regressed in 2019, if he can return to his rookie form the bears will have a nice 2nd option in the interior. Urban, Robertson-Harris and Jenkins all provide good rotational run defense giving the unit a lot of depth.
Linebackers – B-
- Roquan Smith didn’t have the best 2nd year in 2019 but he still has a lot of potential, Smith was drafted 8th overall in 2018 and is very athletic with hard hitting potential. Danny Trevathan is a great all-round veteran linebacker, he can cover, stop the run and blitz at a high level. If Smith can raise his play to match the level of Trevathan the Bears could have a great linebacker duo. Mingo is Chicago’s back up and although he has shown flashes of nice play he has been on 5 different teams in 7 years which is never a good sign.
Overall Grade – B 5.8
Quarterback – B+
Matthew Stafford is in my opinion probably the most underrated quarterback in the NFL right now. Whilst it cannot be denied that Stafford is 69-79-1 for his career, he has shown elite arm talent and natural ability to throw the ball all over the field and into tight windows. Despite only playing 8 games in 2019 Stafford threw for 2,499 yards, 19 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, which would project his full season stats to be 4,998 yards, 38 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also ranked:
1st in intended air yards per attempt
1nd in air yards per attempt
T-1st in air yards per completion
2nd in yards per game
2nd in yards per attempt
2nd in yards per completion
6th in quarterback rating
6th in QBR
12th in 3rd down completion
Proving that he really can sling the ball all over the field, also prior to missing 8 games in 2019 he hadn’t missed a game in 8 years which is the definition of durable. His winning mentality and intangibles are often overlooked due to Detroit losing a lot of games but Stafford owns the record for most 4th quarter comebacks in a season with 8 and ranks 5th amongst active quarterbacks with 28, which is the most in the NFL since he entered the league in 2009, for comparison, Brady has 36 and Brees had 35.
Running Backs – C+
- Kerryon Johnson was supposed to become the Lions franchise back but things haven’t really turned out, Johnson has 1,044 yards across two seasons and 18 games as he has missed 14 to injuries. Johnson will likely split snaps with rookie second round pick D’Andre Swift, Swift is the newest crop of talented Georgia running backs, he is a fast and skilful runner. Swift doesn’t have home run hitting speed or the ability to break tackles with hard-nosed running, but he can step right in and be productive.
Wide Receivers – A-
In my opinion Kenny Golladay is the most underrated wide receiver in the NFL, had he been playing for a slightly more prosperous team the last two seasons I believe he would be widely recognised as a top receiver. Golladay is sneaky quick for 6ft 4 and 214 pounds and while he is not an elite route-runner he is in my view the 2nd best deep threat in the NFL behind only Tyreek Hill and the best jump ball receiver, the stats prove it:
T-1st in contested catches in 2019, 26 – PFF
1st in receiving yards on contested catches, 429 – PFF
1st in 25+ yard receptions, 17 - PFF
T- 1st in 25+ yard Touchdown receptions, 5 – PFF
Additionally, Golladay was playing with rookie David Blough for 5 games (0-5) and Jeff Driskell for 3 games (0-3) who is 1-7 for his career. In those 8 games he put up 550 yards and 4 touchdowns which isn’t far off the 640 yards and 7 touchdowns he totalled in his first 8 games with Stafford proving that he is by no means a product of Stafford’s gunslinging ability. Furthermore, if Golladay can continue to evolve as a route-runner and dare I say get better as a deep, jump ball and RedZone threat we could be looking at a future perennial All-Pro receiver. Marvin Jones Jr is an elite Red Zone threat finding ways to consistently get open or win contested catches in the endzone. He finished 2019 with 779 yards and 9 touchdowns, Jones is now fully healthy and will have another great year in 2020. Amendola will work the slot for Detroit and while he is 34, he can still provide 600-700 yards a season out of the slot.
Tight Ends – B-
- Coming out of the 2019 draft the 9th overall pick T.J. Hockenson was predicted to have a big season for Detroit, however, injuries derailed Hockenson’s season after an outstanding debut in which he caught 6 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown, meaning he was only able to play in 12 games, and he wasn’t truly healthy for those games either. Hockenson is undoubtedly a great prospect who can play all three downs for Detroit due to his route running, sure-handedness and run blocking ability. One of the main knocks on Hockenson was his strength going into his rookie campaign however all reports and recent images have shown that over the offseason he has put on some serious muscle. Jesse James is the Lions back-up tight end, at 6ft 7 he can create mismatches but only had 142 yards in 2019, in Pittsburgh he often totalled around 300-400, James is a nice back up but nothing special.
Offensive Line – B-
- The Lions have some nice pieces on their offensive line but as a whole it is not great. Taylor Decker is developing into a tackle worth the 16th overall pick in 2016, Decker is a great pass blocker but struggles at time against the run. Opposite Decker is ex-Eagles tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Vaitai is a decent run blocker but has struggled against the pass his entire career so signing him to a 5-year $45 million deal seems like a big mistake. The interior of the Lions offensive line is compiled of Joe Dahl, Frank Ragnow and rookie Jonah Jackson. Dahl is a decent starter but is far from great. Ragnow made the leap in his second year after a nice rookie season. Ragnow is a great run blocker and a good pass blocker, he has the potential to one day be the best center in the NFL. Jackson will be a day one starter who can play guard or center if needed., he blocks the pass well but is by no means a good run blocker.
Corner Backs – B+
- The Lions have a nice starting three corners, Trufant, Okudah and Coleman. Trufant is a number one corner and has covered number one receivers for a long time, Trufant had 4 interceptions in 2019 and defended the run well, he was a nice replacement for Darius Slay in the offseason. Okudah is arguably a perfect cornerback prospect, he has elite physical traits and mentality, he has the size, length and foot work to track receivers all through their routes. He can also press and burst to make tackles to stop yards after catch. Okudah has very few weaknesses according to scouts but the primary one is recognition and balance on deep routes; however, quarterbacks rarely target Okudah on deep routes anyway. Justin Coleman will cover the slot for Detroit where he plays his best football and covers well. Roberts and Oruwariyne will provide nice rotational cover for their 3 starters.
Safeties - B
- The Lions safety unit goes 4 deep, Walker and Harmon are the starters with Kearse and Harris as the back-ups. Walker looks like a future potential star; he can cover and defend the run well. Harmon is a 7-year veteran who covers very well and takes the ball away, Harmon has a total of 10 interceptions over the last 3 seasons. Kearse has only played limited snaps since being drafted in 2016 but has been good against both the run and coverage in those snaps. Harris didn’t have a good rookie season but still like many young players is developing and could one day be a good starter.
Edge Rushers – B-
- Trey Flowers is a great run defender and very good pass rusher, over the last 4 seasons Flowers has amassed 28 sacks, 33 tackles for loss, 7 forced fumbles and 80 quarterback hits. While Flowers is a great edge rusher the guy opposite him is Detroit’s issue. Christian Jones is a decent rotational run defender but isn’t a good pass rusher. Julian Okwara was Detroit’s 2020 3rd round pick, Okwara isn’t much of a run stopper but is a good pass rusher. He has an impressive burst but needs to develop a second rush move to be truly effective in the pros.
Interior Defensive Line - B
- Danny Shelton and Da’Shawn Hand are one of the best two down interior defender duos in the NFL, but neither are great interior rushers. Shelton knows Patricia’s system from his time in New England so will fit right into the system. Williams had a resurgence in 2019 playing his role as a rotational veteran run defender well.
Linebackers – B-
- Jamie Collins is a tough one to evaluate, he has always been great when playing in New England but when he’s played in Cleveland his play regressed. If Collins can continue to play at the level, he did in New England the Lions will have a good cover and blitzer at the linebacker position. Jarrad Davis looks like a bust so far, he is a decent linebacker but far from great, Tavai had a nice rookie season and if he can build on it in 2020, he will likely replace Davis as the 2ndlinebacker.