Detroit Lions need to spend a high pick on linebacker in 2022 NFL draft

Detroit Free Press

SEATTLE — Free Press sports writer Dave Birkett breaks down the Detroit Lions51-29 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, and looks at players who helped and hurt their stock Sunday at Lumen Field.

Three up

WR Amon-Ra St. Brown: St. Brown has had a phenomenal second half of the season, and Sunday’s game might have been his crown jewel. The rookie fourth-round pick had eight catches for 111 yards — his first career 100-yard game — and scored rushing and receiving touchdowns and a two-point conversion. Some of St. Brown’s production came with the game out of reach, but he had his way with a Seahawks defense focused on stopping him. He continues to look like a future star.

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SHAWN WINDSOR: Shorthanded Lions lack that Dan Campbell competitive fire until too late

WR KhaDarel Hodge: Hodge has been a non-factor on offense since the Lions claimed Josh Reynolds off waivers, but with Reynolds on the reserve/COVID-19 list Sunday, he re-emerged with a strong game. Hodge caught five passes for 76 yards and made a diving catch near the goal line that nearly resulted in his first score. Reynolds should be back next week, which could relegate Hodge to the bench again. But if nothing else, the special teams stalwart looks like a candidate for a roster spot next year.

Taylor Decker’s hands: Decker caught his second career touchdown with 4:50 left in the third quarter Sunday, when he sold a block then leaked past an unsuspecting Seahawks defender into the end zone. Decker, who caught an 11-yard touchdown pass in 2018, scored three plays after the Lions tried a similar pass to Matt Nelson. He has caught the only two passes thrown his way in his career, and he has done it with a little subterfuge.

Three down

Lions linebackers: The Lions sure look like they will be in position to take a pass rusher early in next year’s draft, but they need to spend a high draft pick on a linebacker, too. Jalen Reeves-Maybin made the “up” list last week, but he struggled to get off blocks Sunday and was one of two Lions (along with Will Harris) who missed tackles on Colby Parkinson’s third-and-7 conversion in the third quarter. Rookie Derrick Barnes has struggled the second half of the season, and, like Reeves-Maybin, was out of place or unable to free himself from blocks on several of Rashaad Penny’s long runs.

CB Will Harris: Harris is playing out of position at cornerback. He’s a safety by trade, so perhaps it’s a little unfair to include him on this list. But the Lions gave up 51 points Sunday and Harris had a hand in several busted plays. He missed a tackle on Parkinson’s third-down conversion, he seemed slow reacting on Penny’s first touchdown run and he guessed wrong on DK Metcalf’s first touchdown. Give Harris credit for filling in where needed in the Lions’ short-handed secondary, but he might be best suited for slot cornerback or backup safety duties down the road.

OG Tommy Kraemer: It wasn’t a banner day blocking for the Lions’ offensive line, and Kraemer in particular had some struggles early. Making a fill-in start at right guard in place of Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Kraemer got beat twice on the Lions’ opening drive, including when L.J. Collier drove him into the backfield on fourth-and-1. An undrafted rookie out of Notre Dame, Kraemer has improved greatly since the preseason, but Sunday wasn’t his best day.

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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