Sticking with our Detroit Lions Training Camp preview, we have wrapped up the offense and will be working on the defense now. Today we will take a look at the Defensive Tackle position and who is a lock to make the roster out of camp, and who is fighting for a spot to make the team when the season kicks off September 7th against the Chiefs.
Detroit Lions Training Camp Roster Preview: Defensive Tackle Locks
McNeil was drafted by the Lions with the 72nd overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. McNeil is expected to be a break-out player this year. He has played in every game since being drafted by Detroit, and last season in 17 games, he recorded one sack, six tackles for loss, seven quarterback hits, and 41 total tackles.
Buggs was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers 192nd overall in 2019. Buggs played for Pittsburgh for three seasons before signing with the Lions on July 23, 2022. In his first season with the Detroit Lions last season, he played in all 17 games recording a pass deflection, a forced fumble, a sack, ten quarterback hits, and 46 total tackles.
Martin was drafted by the Lions with the 96th overall pick in this past draft. Martin played his college football at Western Kentucky; he recorded 31 tackles, 1.5 sacks, two pass deflections, and a forced fumble for a Hilltoppers team that finished 9-5 and allowed 147.9 rushing yards a game.
Detroit Lions Training Camp Roster Preview: Defensive Tackles Fighting for a Spot
Onwuzurike was selected by the Lions with the 41st overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Onwuzurike has only played in one season for the Lions, and that was 2021, having missed all last season with a back injury. In his lone season, he played in 16 games, recording a sack, a pass deflection, a quarterback hit, two tackles for losses, and 35 total tackles.
Jones was claimed by the Lions prior to the 2022 season after having spent his two seasons with the Dolphins. In his first season, he played six games for the Dolphins in 2020, and then in 2021, he spent the season on the Dolphins' practice squad. Last season for the Lions, Jones played in 17 games taking part in 27% of snaps; he recorded two pass deflections, 1.5 sacks, four quarterback hits, and 16 total tackles.
Covington is entering his ninth season in the NFL, having spent time with four other teams, the Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals, and Los Angeles Chargers. His best season came in 2018 when he was with the Texans, playing in just 12 games, but he recorded 3.5 sacks, 15 tackles, four tackles for a loss, and eight QB hits; that season, he had no problems getting to the quarterback.
Smith is a rookie who the Lions signed as an Undrafted Free Agent from Notre Dame. only played one season at Notre Dame and had 17 tackles and one forced fumble in 13 games during the 2022 season. Prior to going to Notre Dame, he played at Harvard.
Durden is another rookie that was signed by the Lions as an Undrafted Free Agent. Durden started his college career at Florida State before transferring to North Carolina State. Durden was a team captain for the Wolfpack in 2022, and he recorded 27 total tackles last season.
Bottom Line: The Defensive Tackles Key for Lions' Defense
Last season, for the Detroit Lions, the defensive tackles combined to record just 3.5 sacks all season, that number needs to be doubled, if not more, and they need to find a way to also stop the run. They will have some tough tests against running backs this season, facing Kenneth Walker, Bijan Robinson, Josh Jacobs, and Tony Pollard. They will need to find a way between the trenches to not allow runs up the middle that will hurt the defense.