Three Surprise Sophomores for 2017 Lions Season
The Lions will wrap up their OTA’s at the end of this week. The offseason workouts give them a first look at their rookies, as well as how young players have progressed thus far. A number of second-year pros have turned heads this summer. Here are three guys capable of surprising everyone in their sophomore campaigns.
OLB Antwione Williams
The spotlight sits firmly on Jarrad Davis. Detroit’s first-rounder has the tall task of captaining this defense as a rookie. Yet with Davis anchoring the middle linebacker spot, and Tahir Whitehead’s move to man the weak-side, one starting job lasts. Williams, a fifth-round pick from last year, has emerged as a candidate for the strong-side. At 6’3″ and 240 pounds, he certainly possesses the size for the position. And amidst a chaotic season for Detroit’s defense, Williams notched 27 tackles with three starts as a rookie. The young linebacker has drawn praise from his head coach, too, as Jim Caldwell commented to reporters last week, “The arrow is pointing up for him”.
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LG Joe Dahl
More question marks surround Detroit’s other fifth-round pick from 2016, Joe Dahl. However, the starting left guard spot remains up for grabs, and Dahl will be a name to consider. The first week of OTA’s featured Graham Glasgow starting at left guard. But with T.J. Lang recovering from hip surgery, Dahl and Laken Tomlinson were rotated at right guard. So if Glasgow slips up, The Washington State product could emerge as a starter.
WR Jace Billingsley
Although he failed to show up on the stat sheet last year, Billingsley did sign with the Lions as an undrafted free agent in 2016. And he showed off his wheels in the preseason. Now the second-year pro from Eastern Oregon hopes to carve out a role for himself in Detroit’s offense. Of course, the addition of rookie Kenny Golladay hurts Billingsley’s chances of cracking the starting lineup. The undersized (5’9″, 189 lbs) slot receiver may be the team’s new kick returner, though, since he excelled as a return man in college.