Bob Wojnowski, John Niyo and Justin Rogers break down the Lions' offense after minicamps. The Detroit News
Allen Park — It's about that time of year where I get to use my vacation time, but until I get to that finish line at the end of the week, there are a few loose ends I need to tie up with my Detroit Lions coverage. While I work on those items, let's knock out a final mailbag before training camp.
is Kenny Golladay going to ascend and take over as the top threat for Stafford?— Dan Brown, CSCS (@strengthcoachdb) June 12, 2018
Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Golladay is coming off a strong rookie season and is off to an impressive start this offseason, but it's not like Marvin Jones or Golden Tate are in decline. Jones is coming off his best season, establishing himself as legitimate deep threat, while Tate continues to pump out 90-catch campaigns.
If Golladay can manage to stay healthy for 16 games, average 50 yards per contest and serve as a reliable red zone option, that would be an excellent step in his development.
If you could go on vacation with any Lion in history and any current Lions writer who would choose and where would you go.— Eric Chase. (@Eric_Chase) June 12, 2018
Without question, I'd pick DeAndre Levy. We share a general curiosity about the world and different cultures, and aren't afraid to leave our comfort zone in search of an adventure.
As for a current Lions writers, it's got to be Kyle Meinke. If nothing else, I know he's someone who appreciates a good meal (or 10).
Dave Birkett has one of the least refined palates of anyone I know, I couldn't take Carlos Monarrez's hyperbolic complaining, Nate Atkins sleeps in too late and Michael Rothstein has told me he isn't fond of heat, which rules out way too many destinations and activities.
What are your thoughts on Devon Kennard after watching him in mini camp and OTAs?— Sweta Patel (@sweta2311) June 12, 2018
He's a chess piece that will be moving around quite a bit. I think you should be prepared to see him line up on the line of scrimmage often, both as a rusher and a decoy who will drop back. He's near the top of my list of players I'm looking forward to seeing when the pads come on next month.
What are the chances of Jace Billingsly making the team? My hope is that Patricia will see a Wes Welker type player.— 〽️ Go Blue! (@mjpete80) June 12, 2018
Billingsley will be in the mix for the fifth wide receiver job. I don't like the Welker comp, because I feel people are trying too hard to pigeonhole the skill set into fitting into the mold of the former Patriot.
If anything, Billingsley mirrors a lot of what Tate brings to the Lions' offense, just not at the same level. There is open-field elusiveness, the ability to run most of the route tree, some experience taking handoffs and pitches out of the backfield, plus a resume that includes punt returning.
Haven't heard much talk about the D-line yet. How is that group progressing so far? What about Da'Shawn Hand? Also, which rookie has impressed you the most so far?— Ben C (@TheExtraPointFF) June 12, 2018
You haven't heard much about the defensive line because the players are practicing without pads, so any evaluation is very limited. We'll get a better feel for these players during camp.
Tate's looking like a goner, isn't he? Golladay and an increased focus on the run game likely means no $ room for a guy who takes a lot of hits in the passing game and is closing in on 30.— Hermy (@Hermaphro) June 12, 2018
I'm not writing off the possibility of the team re-signing Tate, but the price tag keeps going up. The Browns giving Jarvis Landry $75 million over five years, including $47 million in guarantees, raises the bar.
Tate isn't going to get that kind of money, mostly because he's four years older than Landry, turning 30 this August, but the Lions' slot man could see a three- or four-year pact that pays him $12 million per season on the open market.
The Lions have the cap space to afford that, but may also feel they could find a more reasonably priced slot option in the draft or free agency.
How would you grade the Lions offseason so far? Are we a better team this year than last? Is a coach the difference between a .500 club or a serious playoff contender?— thunder dan (@DanTrix81) June 12, 2018
I'll skip the instant-reaction grade, because it's silly, but to answer the final question of the bunch, a coaching change can definitely have a significant impact on a franchise.
The most recent example is Sean McVay with the Rams. His approach and energy breathed life into that roster, turning a middling team into a serious contender (despite last year's first-round playoff exit).
With no clear track record of success, how screwed are the Leos with reference to the TE position/will they de-emphasize the usage this year?— Andy O))) (@oppsopps) June 12, 2018
The more I watch the group practice, the more confident I am that the Lions will be fine at tight end. Does that mean they'll fully replace the receiving production provided by Eric Ebron? Probably not, but Michael Roberts and Luke Willson should be able to combine for 50-60 catches.
And the underlying boost should be the current collective's run blocking. Going strictly by Pro Football Focus' grades, Roberts was Detroit's best run-blocking tight end last season, while Willson and Levine Toilolo, the other offseason addition, had similarly high marks.
Which running back will get 100 yards in a game first?— Jeff (@jeffrbrown20) June 12, 2018
Both Kerryon Johnson and LeGarrette Blount have an outside shot, but it would be on the back of a big gain within a game. I don't anticipate the Lions leaning on any one option enough to see one break the 100-yard mark in a game next season.
That isn't necessarily a damning statement. A single-game, individual performance isn't what the Lions need. They need consistency, game-to-game, and situational success, particularly in short-yardage. As long as the team averages 4.0 yards per carry, and is effective in power-rushing situations, that's good enough.
I have a slogan for this: Niyo for knowledge, Wojo for fun.
Three receivers with 1000+ yards this season? I'm excited to see Golladay's growth.— Aaron Pruett (@Michigun91) June 12, 2018
That's pretty unlikely. Remember, Tate just barely got over that mark last season, and even if Golladay had played all 16 games, he was on pace for 695 yards.
Can coach MP install a complicated, mentally demanding defense in just one year?— JW (@jmwhitejmwhite) June 12, 2018
He can, but there's likely to be some growing pains — missed tackles, bad angles and blown coverage assignments — as players adjust to their new schematic responsibilities. Like anything, improvement should come with experience, both on the individual level and for the entire unit.
What will be the biggest position battles to watch in mini camp and the preseason?— John Popovits (@The_Johnny_Pop) June 12, 2018
Starting cornerback opposite Darius Slay, third linebacker to pair with Jarrad Davis and Devon Kennard and starting tight end between Willson and Roberts. I'm also curious how the running back depth chart will shake out. Will Ameer Abdullah be on the roster Week 1?
Who’s gonna replace Don Carey on special teams?— Josh Clark (@Samzon68) June 12, 2018
I don't know if there's a single player who will replace what Carey brought to the table, but the team has added several special teams contributors in free agency and the draft who will need to step up on the coverage units, including Christian Jones, Jonathan Freeny, DeShawn Shead and Tracy Walker.