Amani Oruwariye airs for an interception.
The Detroit Lions have not met expectations on the defensive side of the ball in 2019, and in fact, it’s safe to say this could be the most surprising season for the team in the long term.
Although things were divided, however, some small spots appeared on the farm. The Lions are dominating almost every aspect on the defensive side, but there are enough young people in the area to think the team can do things their own way with the right outpouring of talent.
Which young player is the Lions’ top defensive building blocks this season? Here’s a look at some names to keep in mind as early as the 2020 season.
Tracy Walker, S
Detroit vaulted many teams in 2018 to pick Walker, and he wasted little time wetting his feet and making playing his rookie year. Without Quandre Diggs, the Lions would depend on Walker to step up and make some big plays in the secondary and become the top safety leader. He looked the path to making it through to the bit of injury-prone, but late in the 2019 season, Walker came and played his best game in Week 17. There’s reason to think he could be one of the next up and coming defensive stars are talking about people. At the very least, he is a great piece for the Lions to have their reshape in their backfield for 2020.
Amani Oruwaryie, CB
It’s hard to pronounce the name, but it might be wise for Lions fans to get used to it. In this last season, Oruwariye made his mark when he had a chance by playing some solid defense. He finished the season with 2 interceptions, which is more than many Lions rookies typically save in their first season in the league. With time and more seasonings, it’s easy to see Oruwariye grow into a bigger franchise role. The Lions love the size and his ability to play ball. He has shown some of those qualities in spots after recovering from a midseason injury that slowed his progress in 2019.
Trey Flowers, DL
It’s interesting to think of Flowers’ accomplishments as a young player, but clearly at 26, the best days are still before the pass rusher. With 7 sacks, the Flowers have had a solid season for the Lions, even though it may take some time to get going. Once he got acclimated, the Lions needed what they saw. Along with Devon Kennard, Flowers is just one of the team’s consistent pass rushers. More is needed to build this offseason, but Flowers is a great start, and should remain a great investment for the team.
Jahlani Drink, LB
Tavai will be a bright spot in the position, and early on, he didn’t look overmatched on the field in the NFL. That gave a lot to his smaller school stature and the mild Lions fans expected for him to come out of college in the draft. As Tavai continues to work in Matt Patricia’s defense, he hopes to get better and be able to play a more consistent role for the team. So far this season, Tavai has done a little bit of everything for the Lions. He collected 50 tackles, 2 sacks and 1 fumble recovery in addition to 1 interception. Known for his hair, Tavai has made a ton of big plays for Detroit this season and has been a quality player for their defense. He is the future at linebacker.
Harris, a third round pick, wasn’t expected to do much this year, but the Lions pushed him into a major role after the Diggs trade. It took a couple of games, but Harris finally arrived with Walker in the season finale in Week 17. Now, he will look to gain confidence by 2020. Instantly, hard-hitting Harris, who is rarely not in position when he saw the field. The Lions will build around him safely as well as Walker, and he is a big name to remember going forward.
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