Pro Football Focus details the Detroit Lions’ new, healthy problem

The Detroit Lions now have a healthy “problem,” and Pro Football Focus outlined it with a high spot on a training camp’s position battle list.

Practically whichever way you look at it, the Detroit Lions had one of the worst pass rushes in the NFL last year. Sacks, pressure rate, quarterback hits, knockdowns, continue down the line. And that was with a breakthrough season from Charles Harris (7.5 sacks). Otherwise it would have been even uglier.

Losing Romeo Okwara (10 sacks in 2020) to a torn Achilles tendon in Week 4 last year hurt the Lions’ passing rush badly. His younger brother Julian Okwara showed some flashes, but a full build didn’t quite materialize.

Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson went through all the positions and named the league’s biggest camp fight, mentioning some alternatives in footnote form. He went to Edgerusher with the Lions as the league’s biggest upcoming camp fight.

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PFF points to new ‘problem for Detroit Lions’


Hutchinson isn’t the only rookie looking to make an impression, as Paschal also brings plenty of college production to the table. Paschal posted a 90.2 overall PFF score last season, and he was particularly effective against the run, giving him a shot at game time, even if he’s not the best pass rusher of the bunch. Romeo’s brother Julian Okwara is also there.

This is a talented group of rushers and if things improve elsewhere on defense they could make for a formidable unit.

The Lions got aggressive to ramp up their passing rush with the additions of Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal in the first two rounds of the April draft. Okwara’s return to health whenever he can play will be an interesting addition to the picture. Harris has acknowledged plays he left on the field last year as he strives to be more consistent this year.

As Monson noted in the Lions Edge group spot in his post, depth and the ability to spin in fresh legs have become very important in the edge rusher spot. The Lions haven’t had much depth over the past year and Romeo Okwara’s injury revealed it even more. A thin roster all around reflected who they had to rely on (other than Harris) to get off the ledge for much of the season and the results of the pass rush broadly.

As they transition to using more four-man fronts and once Okwara is healthy, there are scenarios where the Lions could end up having Hutchinson, Harris, Okwara and Paschal on the field at the same time. That alone is indicative of the edge-rushing depth they have now, and trying to find snaps for everyone is a healthy “problem” for the defense staff led by coordinator Aaron Glenn.

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