Each week, we’ll take a look at how the Detroit Lions' rookies fared the week before. This series will typically run the mornings after games.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Their first seasons are now complete, although likely a bit earlier than they hoped.
The Detroit Lions' 2014 rookie class didn’t have the depth or consistency the 2013 rookies did -- a group that saw potential organizational stalwarts in Ezekiel Ansah, Darius Slay and Larry Warford taken in the first three rounds of the draft.
It’s too early to determine whether a player in a class is a bust or a real find yet -- those evaluations should typically take two seasons -- but here is a look at the first playoff game for all of these rookies, how they fared Sunday, and a brief look of where they need to go next.
TE Eric Ebron (first round, North Carolina): Ebron did what was asked Sunday. He caught all three of his targets for 21 yards and started to show some consistency over the second half of the season. He caught two or more passes in four of the Lions’ final six games. The next steps for Ebron -- and there are many -- will be to increase his consistency, improve his blocking and to start becoming a downfield threat. The caveat there is Detroit needs to be willing to use the player drafted at No. 10 last May in the spread-the-field role the team drafted him to fill.
LB Kyle Van Noy (second round, BYU): He played three snaps Sunday according to Pro Football Focus, and once again did not record a statistic. With Ashlee Palmer a free agent, the Lions need Van Noy to take an injury-shortened rookie season and turn it into a successful second season. He was drafted to be a playmaker with a nose for the ball last May, and hasn’t shown it to this point. The offseason is going to be massive for him. Detroit needs him to be a lot better in Year 2 than he was as a rookie in limited situations.
OL Travis Swanson (third round, Arkansas): In his fifth start of the season -- four at right guard and one at center -- he mostly handled himself well, but now a question of his health is in play after a knee injury forced him from the game. The extent of the injury isn’t known yet. His next step -- depending on the severity of his injury -- will either be replacing Dominic Raiola at center or Rob Sims at left guard.
DE Larry Webster (fourth round, Bloomsburg): Webster was inactive Sunday against Dallas. He did not play in a game this season. Depending on what Detroit does with free agents Darryl Tapp and George Johnson -- both of whom had good seasons for the Lions -- he could and should be in line for playing time in 2015.
CB Nevin Lawson (fourth round, Utah State): Lawson is on injured reserve with dislocated toes. He played in two games, making one tackle before his Week 2 injury. In very limited work, he showed promise as a potential slot corner. He’ll likely compete with Bill Bentley for that spot -- and potentially a roster spot, period -- this offseason.
DT Caraun Reid (fifth round, Princeton): Reid was inactive for the Lions on Sunday against Dallas. He played in 12 games, making two tackles. The Lions will surely sign other defensive tackles, but right now he is No. 1 on the Detroit depth chart at the position in 2015. Though that will change, Reid’s one-year apprenticeship will have to end in 2015, because the Lions are unlikely to bring back all of Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, C.J. Mosley and Andre Fluellen. One, maybe two, will probably return. But Reid should have a role next season.
WR TJ Jones (sixth round, Notre Dame): Jones was left on the PUP list all season. The Lions are still hunting for a true third receiver, even with Corey Fuller, Ryan Broyles and Jeremy Ross still on the roster. Jones is a complete unknown because of his injury, but he should be able to push all of those guys for a roster spot.
OL Cornelius Lucas (undrafted, Kansas State): He had a rough game Sunday, giving up three quarterback hurries according to Pro Football Focus, and also was responsible for one of the sacks of Matthew Stafford on the final drive of the game. Considering he wasn’t expected to have a big role this season, he played fine, but he’s going to be in a competition for the third tackle spot next season. Other than Larry Warford and Riley Reiff, the Lions are going to have to look hard at their line and decide if Lucas is part of the solution.
CB Mohammed Seisay (undrafted, Nebraska): He played 10 snaps according to PFF, and it didn’t go well. He gave up receptions all three times Tony Romo threw at him, and didn’t look ready for the bigger stage. He was picked up as a developmental project and remains as such. He is a good special teams player with potential. He’ll be in an interesting cornerback competition in the offseason.