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Midweek Musings - Let’s Look at the Defensive Depth Chart

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How close were we?

Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images

Last week, we examined how well BSD prognosticated the offensive depth chart. This week, we’ll be looking at the original defensive projection from January. How did we do? Let’s take a look.


DEFENSIVE ENDS - Original

Strongside: Jayson Oweh (RS SO), Shane Simmons (RS SR)

Weakside: *Shaka Toney (RS SR), Adisa Isaac (SO)

DEFENSIVE ENDS - Actual

Strongside: Jayson Oweh (RS SO), Shane Simmons (RS SR)

Weakside: *Shaka Toney (RS SR), Adisa Isaac (SO)

At the time of the original article, it was unsure whether Shaka Toney would return to the team. He of course has returned, and with it brings one of the more athletic defensive end units the Lions have had. Perhaps not quite as stout against the run, but this group will get after the quarterback.

DE: 4/4

Overall: 4/4


DEFENSIVE TACKLE - Original

3-Tech: PJ Mustipher (JR), Damion Barber (RS JR)

1-Tech: *Antonio Shelton (RS SR), Fred Hansard (RS JR)

DEFENSIVE TACKLE - Actual

3-Tech: PJ Mustipher (JR), Judge Culpepper (RS SO)

1-Tech: *Antonio Shelton (RS SR), Fred Hansard (RS JR)

The big “surprise” here is Judge Culpepper moving into the two-deep. He was originally on the three-deep, so really it’s just a minor shuffle. Mustipher and Shelton will be a fierce tandem up front, but the depth behind them will need to step up for the middle of the line to really shine.

DT: 3/4

Overall: 7/8


LINEBACKER - Original

Will: *Micah Parsons (JR), Jesse Luketa (JR)

Mike: Ellis Brooks (RS JR), Jesse Luketa (JR)

Sam: Brandon Smith (SO), Lance Dixon (RS FR)

LINEBACKER - Actual

Will: *Micah Parsons (JR), Charlie Katshir (RS SO)

Mike: Ellis Brooks (RS JR), Jesse Luketa (JR)

Sam: Brandon Smith (SO), Lance Dixon (RS FR)

The starting three remain the same, but it’s nice to see a sixth player enter the rotation in Charlie Katshir. Jesse Luketa will play all over as a backup LB, but having Katshir means Jesse won’t be quite as gassed later in games.

LB: 5/6

Overall: 12/14


SAFETY - Original

FS: Jaquan Brisker (SR), Jonathan Sutherland (RS JR)

SS: *Lamont Wade (SR), Ji’Ayir Brown (JR)

SAFETY - Actual

FS: Jaquan Brisker (SR), Jonathan Sutherland (RS JR)

SS: *Lamont Wade (SR), Tyler Rudolph (RS FR)

Almost perfect again, this time Tyler Rudolph has risen up the ranks and taken hold of the backup strong safety position. The biggest issue in the secondary last year appeared to be miscommunications and poor positioning between the safeties and the cornerbacks. Here’s hoping those issues can be cut down, because this looks to be yet another solid group.

S: 3/4

Overall: 15/18


CORNERBACK - Original

CB: Keaton Ellis (SO), Donovan Johnson (RS JR)

CB: *Tariq Castro-Fields (SR), Marquis Wilson (SO)

CORNERBACK - Actual

CB: Donovan Johnson (RS JR), Marquis Wilson (SO)

CB: *Tariq Castro-Fields (SR), Keaton Ellis (SO)

You’re going to give me some guff over the grading on this one, but I don’t care. There was some shuffling between the starters and the backups, but the top four cornerbacks are still the top four cornerbacks. TCF is now a two-year starter, and Donovan Johnson was having a solid start to the 2019 season before getting injured. Ellis and Wilson are two athletic backups. Again, if communication in the secondary improves, the overall back end of the defense should be really good.

CB: 4/4

Overall: 19/22


Well, there you have it. Not too bad overall! Out of 22 players listed in the 2-deep, we got 19 right! That’s an 86%, which means on both sides of the ball, BSD is a B student!

So, how does everyone feel about the offense? I think this is a very strong group. The defensive ends probably won’t be quite as strong against the run, but I think they’ll be very adept at getting after the quarterback. If the DT backups can do well, and keep the starters fresh, running up the middle on this team will be no easy task.

Having both Parsons and Smith at linebacker is unfair. Perhaps the best LB duo since the Posluszny-Lee. The front seven are going to be tough.

That leaves the back four, which compared to 2019, should be about the same, if not a bit better. That’s not to knock the players from 2019 - Garrett Taylor and John Reid were both very good. But the communication issues bit them in the butt against Minnesota and Ohio State (not to mention random other teams like Pitt and Indiana). Having some continuity with TCF and Wade, pairing with two athletic players in Donovan and Brisker, could result in one of the better secondaries the Lions have had in some time.

We shall see!