Detroit Lions stock watch: Rookie defensive players playing well, Rams castoffs not working

Detroit Free Press

ARLINGTON, Texas — Free Press sports writer Dave Birkett breaks down the Detroit Lions24-6 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, and looks at players and coaches who helped and hurt their stock Sunday at AT&T Stadium:

Stock up

CB Jeff Okudah

Okudah remains one of the bright spots in the Lions’ otherwise disappointing season, and he bounced back from his worst game of the year in a huge way Sunday. He had a career-high 15 tackles, including one for loss, and keyed a good showing by the Lions’ run defense. Oh, and the No. 3 pick of the 2020 NFL draft was pretty good in coverage, too.

LIONS GRADES:This loss is on Jared Goff, Jamaal Williams

DL Josh Paschal

A second-round pick out of Kentucky, Paschal made two tackles in his NFL debut Sunday, but his impact went beyond the box score. Paschal strung out a number of run plays with good penetration and showed little rust in his return from offseason hernia surgery. “He popped, he flashed in there so it was very encouraging,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “Very encouraging. There’s a lot of room for him to grow.

S Kerby Joseph

The Lions started four rookies on defense Sunday: Paschal, first-round pick Aidan Hutchinson, linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez and Joseph, who has played well since taking over for an injured Tracy Walker at free safety. Joseph had four tackles Sunday, one quarterback hit and he forced a fumble with a big hit on Noah Brown near the goal line. He’s endured some growing pains in his starts, but Joseph is starting to look like a keeper on the field.

SHAWN WINDSOR:Another loss for Lions, in ways old and new. What did this city do to deserve it?

Stock down

QB Jared Goff

Goff committed four turnovers Sunday, losing two fumbles and throwing two interceptions, and now has nine turnovers in six games this year. He made bad throws on both his picks and was careless with the ball in the pocket. The Lions are screaming towards a top-five pick in the draft, and every week that goes by it becomes more and more clear that Goff is not their long-term answer at quarterback.

DL Michael Brockers

With Paschal and John Cominsky back from injuries, the Lions made Brockers, one of their defensive captains, a healthy inactive Sunday for the first in his two seasons in Detroit. Brockers has had little impact on the field since coming over in a trade from the Los Angeles Rams, and with the Lions’ playoff hopes fading fast, there’s little reason to believe he’ll be back in the playing rotation anytime soon.

AFTER FURTHER REVIEW:Dan Campbell: Refs said Trevon Diggs ‘had both hands and possession of’ INT

RB Jamaal Williams

Williams ran well most of Sunday, finishing with 15 carries for 79 yards. But he lost a costly fumble on the goal line that helped turn momentum Dallas’ way. Williams’ turnover problems have not been as pronounced as Goff’s; Sunday’s lost fumble was the first of his career. But he has put the ball on the ground three times in the Lions’ past two games, including once in Sunday’s first half when Brock Wright was blocked into his path (Wright recovered the fumble for the Lions). D’Andre Swift should be back next week, and if Williams has more costly mistakes it could cut into his playing time.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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