The Detroit Lions ‘best-kept secret’ is on the defensive side of the ball?

SideLion Report

The Detroit Lions’ “best kept secret”, according to Bleacher Report, is…. a defensive player?

On their way to 3-13-1 last year, the Detroit Lions had their fair share of struggles defensively. There were some good games, sure (see Week 15-Arizona Cardinals, Week 3-Baltimore Ravens, at least until the end on the latter). But alas, the Lions were still a bottom-tier defense across the board in 2021.

Detroit’s defense should naturally be better in 2022, with better depth added and at least one notable talent upgrade in No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson.

Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report has named the “best-kept secret” for each NFL team heading into the 2022 season. For the Lions, if it were to be a defensive player, cornerback Amani Oruwariye might be the easy one. But Moton went another direction, and up a level on the Lions’ defense.

Detroit Lions ‘best-kept secret’ is……

Here’s who Moton has as the Lions’ best-kept secret, with an exerpt from his reasoning.

Detroit Lions: LB Derrick Barnes

Last year, Derrick Barnes saw an increase in his defensive snap count as the Detroit Lions moved on from linebacker Jamie Collins. The team released the latter in late September after unsuccessful attempts to trade him..

In Week 3, Barnes made his first career start. He didn’t stick with the first-stringers for most of the season but maintained a solid role in the last two months of the campaign.

Though Barnes struggled in pass coverage, allowing an 86.4 completion rate and a 149.1 passer rating, he made several plays while moving toward the line of scrimmage, logging 67 tackles, four for loss, two sacks and two pass breakups.

Barnes played in all 17 games as a rookie, starting six, with 67 total tackles, four tackles for loss, two sacks and two pass breakups. He certainly struggled in coverage (the aforementioned 86.4 percent completion rate allowed in his coverage), but that could’ve been expected to some degree after playing some defensive end in college at Purdue.

Barnes was also one of two defensive rookies Lions head coach Dan Campbell called out by name late last season.

He’s (Barnes) got to play better. He’s got to play better, and I thought he took a step back,” he (Campbell) said. “We need more from our stack-backers…I think with Derrick, there’s things that he learns from that he doesn’t have to make a mistake to learn from. But then there’s enough of these where, honestly, he’s got to stick his hand in the fire before he realizes that it is hot,”

In a Lions’ linebacking corps that’s starving for difference makers, opportunity is there for Barnes heading into his second season. Time will tell if he unveils himself as a piece of the future in Detroit.

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