Every week, we invite you to ask questions and take part in a Lions Mailbag. To ask questions for a future Mailbag, use the hashtag #LionsMailbag on Twitter or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, on to your questions.
Early but do you see Quandre Diggs starting at S next to Quin when all is said and done, would that also end the Killebrew era with Wilson and Walker being the 3rd and 4th safeties? #LionsMailbag— JonJon (@LionsFan4Everr) May 25, 2018
JonJon, at this point Quandre Diggs has a legitimate shot to start opposite Glover Quin when the Lions face the Jets in Week 1. His biggest competition probably will be last year’s starter at strong safety, Tavon Wilson, but Diggs played well when asked to fill in that role and it very well could be his long-term future home. It’s somewhat tough to gauge what’s going on right now because Quin isn’t at voluntary OTAs and Wilson is limited in what he can do (he was wearing a red no-contact jersey Thursday), but Diggs should be in that mix if not be the favorite to start at this point. He earned that with his play over the second half of last season.
The Lions could keep five safeties, particularly if they view Diggs and Wilson as pieces that could go between corner and safety and if Miles Killebrew continues to stand out on special teams. But you’re right in that Killebrew needs to have a strong spring/training camp to win a job here. Unlike in past years, his spot doesn’t seem to be locked down in the slightest.
How many coaches do you think will tune into the opening game of the season now that the kickoff formations have to change? Do you think we see an increase of kickoff TD's? What strategy do you think most teams will go with? #LionsMailbag— Raymond Nuznoff (@rayray1222) May 24, 2018
That’s a pretty interesting question, Raymond. I think you’ll see some extra attention paid to it by everybody during the preseason, when these types of things usually get figured out. By the time Week 1 starts, most teams should have a handle on the new rule and what it’ll mean for returns and for returners. For players such as Ameer Abdullah, who was a brilliant kick returner as a rookie, it could give a real opportunity to make bigger plays. It could also mean more work there for Jamal Agnew, who was an All-Pro as a punt returner (but not as good as a kick returner) last season. It really could give returners the chance to have bigger impact on games, although I think it’s a little too early to fully know the strategy teams will go with.
That probably will get worked out between the spring and training camp. Matt Patricia said it could change where teams try to place balls on the kickoff and that it could change things, schematically, for how teams handle kickoffs. But realistically most of that won’t be figured out until the fall.
#LionsMailbag Did any UDFA's stand out today?— Eric Lambert (@eric_lambo) May 24, 2018
Eric, not really, although it’s still early. Considering the coaching shift and what the changes in the defense are going to be, I spent a lot of time watching the front seven and the offensive line to get a feel for those things. That said, no one stood out to me among the undrafted guys, but typically one or two usually catch my eye by the end of spring workouts.
Matthew asks by email: I believe that many people aren’t paying attention to the problem that the Detroit Lions have at linebacker. Jarrad Davis and Devon Kennard are very good linebackers, but who is going to play the third linebacker position, Jalen Reeves-Maybin? Also, I believe that if the Lions land Johnathan Hankins, with their depth at DE and if Hankins signs, I think they have an elite D-line.
Thanks for writing, Matthew. Linebacker is a sneaky area of need right now. Based off what was seen this week at OTAs, Kennard, Davis and Christian Jones are going to be some of the main linebackers with Reeves-Maybin getting a decent amount of work as well, potentially in a 3-4 setting. That said, with so many teams using three receiver sets, the nickel – either a 3-3-5 or your standard nickel front – would seem to be the way Detroit is going to end up playing a good amount of time. In those cases, Kennard and Davis are the likely first two options there, although Reeves-Maybin and/or Jones could see some work as well depending on situation. That said, it’s not a linebacker group that has many established playmakers.
As far as the defensive line, still too early to see what exactly happens, but based on Thursday, it’s going to be a flexible group all over the place.