Dan Campbell reveals 5 Detroit Lions who improved most during OTAs/Minicamp

Prior to Thursday's minicamp session, Dan Campbell talked about five players he believes have improved since last season.

Before the Detroit Lions‘ final minicamp practice kicked off, Dan Campbell was asked to identify the players who showcased the most improvement compared to the previous year. Campbell initially hesitated, acknowledging the limitations imposed by the non-contact nature of the practices held thus far. However, he eventually acknowledged five players who have stood out with their development. Let's delve into what Campbell had to say about each of them.

Dan Campbell NFL Draft Jahmyr Gibbs Jack Campbell Detroit Lions

Dan Campbell reveals 5 Detroit Lions who improved most during OTAs/Minicamp

Derrick Barnes

Campbell emphasized Barnes' progress, reiterating his earlier comments from Wednesday. He expressed confidence in Barnes' abilities and stated that nobody should count him out. Barnes has been consistently receiving first-team reps at the WILL linebacker position alongside Alex Anzalone. Although first-round draft pick Jack Campbell is expected to challenge him for the starting role, Barnes has impressed the coaching staff and his fellow teammates with his comfort and growth as an off-ball linebacker.

Nate Sudfeld

Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson previously voiced his satisfaction with the team's quarterback depth during OTAs. Sudfeld's presence in the quarterback room has contributed to a positive camaraderie among the players. Johnson emphasized the importance of having a reliable backup quarterback who can not only win games but also support the starter throughout the season. Sudfeld's abilities and supportiveness have earned praise from the coaching staff.

“I love the room right now,” Johnson said. “There is a great camaraderie in there and I think that is really important when you need to find that backup quarterback position. It’s not only a guy that can go in there and win games, but for the majority of the season, if all things go right, he is there to support that starter and we have that right now.”

Ifeatu Melifonwu

Campbell specifically mentioned Melifonwu during the press conference, noting that he has made noticeable strides during the offseason practices. Injuries hampered Melifonwu's development in his first two seasons, limiting his opportunities to refine his skills. However, the current offseason has provided him with a significant amount of consecutive practice time, resulting in tangible growth. Melifonwu expressed his increased comfort and confidence, mentioning that the safety position feels more natural to him this year.

Starling Thomas V

As an undrafted rookie, Thomas V faces an uphill battle to secure a roster spot. Nevertheless, Campbell gave him an unprompted shoutout, highlighting his impact during practices. Thomas V has exhibited exceptional athleticism and instincts, making a case for himself despite the competition in the crowded cornerback room. If he continues to showcase his abilities on special teams, Thomas V could further solidify his chances of making the final roster.

Amon-Ra St. Brown

While it may seem difficult for St. Brown to be considered “most improved” since he has consistently performed at a high level, Campbell couldn't help but acknowledge his consistent and reliable play. St. Brown has been one of the team's standout players, impressing the coaching staff with his consistent performances. Campbell highlighted St. Brown's reliability and the team's expectation of him performing at a high level consistently.

Bottom Line: OTAs and Minicamp Provide Opportunities

Overall, the Detroit Lions' OTAs and minicamp provided a platform for several players to demonstrate their progress and catch the attention of the coaching staff. The development showcased by Derrick Barnes, Nate Sudfeld, Ifeatu Melifonwu, Starling Thomas V, and Amon-Ra St. Brown serves as an encouraging sign for the team's future. As the Lions move forward, these players will be eager to continue their growth and contribute to the team's success in the upcoming season.