The long-awaited demolition of the Pontiac Silverdome is expected to start within 45 days of early June. JC Reindl, Detroit Free Press
For the second straight year, we’ll spend the summer counting down the top-20 players on the Detroit Lions’ roster in anticipation of training camp.
This isn’t meant to be a gauge of how players have performed in the past or what they did last year. This is more a prediction of how valuable each player will be to the Lions this fall, accounting for the role they’ll play on the team. Left tackle Taylor Decker would have been a top-five selection had he not tore the labrum in his right shoulder in early June. With Decker potentially out for half the season or more, his role has diminished to the point he does not appear on this list.
Here, in reverse order, are your top-20 Lions for 2017.
No. 12 T.J. Lang
Position: Right guard.
2016 stats: 13 games played, 13 games started (for Green Bay Packers).
Contract status: Signed three-year, $28.5-million free-agent deal with the Lions in March.
Why he’s No. 12: Lang might have ranked higher on this list if not for some uncertainty about his health. Coming off January hip surgery, he has yet to practice with his new team. The Birmingham Brother Rice and Eastern Michigan product was selected to his first Pro Bowl last season, and anyone who has watched him play for the Packers in recent years knows he’s one of the steadiest guards in the NFL. Lang is both a good run blocker and solid pass protector, and his strengths line up well with what the Lions will ask him to do. He’ll join Rick Wagner in what should be one of the better right sides of an offensive line in the NFL.
2017 projection: Lang dealt with both foot and hip problems last year, so it’s a minor miracle he was able to make his first Pro Bowl. As the most veteran player on the Lions’ offensive line, a lot is expected of Lang this fall. No one doubts his grit and tenacity, and if he stays healthy he should be a slight upgrade from Larry Warford at right guard.
Top-20 Lions countdown
No. 13 Marvin Jones might reach 1,000 yards as WR
No. 14: Nevin Lawson more than a nickel CB
No. 15: Sam Martin among NFL’s best punters
No. 16: Matt Prater automatic as kicker
No. 17: Rookie Jarrad Davis a Day 1 starter at linebacker
No. 18: Center Travis Swanson enters contract year
No. 19: Tavon Wilson an all-around player
No. 20: Tahir Whitehead is versatile at LB
Contact Dave Birkett: email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.
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