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Detroit Lions Linked to 2 Free Agent EDGE Rushers

The Detroit Lions need some help for Aidan Hutchinson

The Detroit Lions defense showed marked improvement in the 2023 season over its previous year, yet the quest for excellence leaves no room for complacency. Despite the leap forward, the Lions’ defense, particularly in applying pressure on the quarterback, revealed areas ripe for enhancement. While Aidan Hutchinson has risen as a standout EDGE rusher, his solo efforts underscore the need for additional firepower to solidify the Lions’ defensive line.

In an enlightening piece by Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus, the Lions could set their sights on bolstering their edge-rushing capabilities by exploring the acquisition of two notable free agents in the market: Za’Darius Smith of the Cleveland Browns and D.J. Wonnum of the Minnesota Vikings.

Detroit Lions

Za’Darius Smith: A Versatile Powerhouse

Za’Darius Smith has emerged as a formidable force on the defensive line, showcasing a robust pass-rushing grade of 90.2 and a true pass-set pass-rush grade of 90.9. His pass-rush win rate stands at an impressive 18.7%, complemented by a run-defense grade of 68.2. Smith’s potential move to the Detroit Lions could replicate the dynamic versatility seen in Hutchinson’s gameplay, offering Detroit a multifaceted threat capable of adapting to various formations. Drawing comparisons to Robert Ayers‘ 2016 performance, Smith’s acquisition could significantly enhance the Lions’ defensive strategy.

D.J. Wonnum: A Tactical Fit

On the other hand, D.J. Wonnum presents a different proposition. With a pass-rush grade of 55.1 and a true pass set pass-rush grade of 60.7, alongside a pass-rush win rate of 8.2% and a run-defense grade of 65.7, Wonnum’s profile suggests a player adept at handling a high volume of snaps. His fit with the Detroit Lions is further underscored by Detroit’s defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn’s increased blitz rate towards the end of 2023—a strategy that Wonnum, with his experience in Minnesota, is well-equipped to thrive in. His comparison with Al-Quadin Muhammad in 2022 reinforces the potential value Wonnum could bring to the Lions’ defensive endeavors.

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TL;DR (too long didn’t read)

  1. Targeting Versatility and Strength: The Detroit Lions have been linked to Za’Darius Smith and D.J. Wonnum, two prominent free agents known for their defensive prowess. Smith offers a high pass-rush grade and versatility, allowing for dynamic use across the defensive line, much like the Lions have utilized Aidan Hutchinson.
  2. Strategic Defensive Enhancements: By considering Smith and Wonnum, the Lions could aim to address a critical gap in sacking the quarterback identified in the 2023 season. Smith’s potential for versatile deployment and Wonnum’s fit in a defense that increased its blitz rate towards the season’s end align with Detroit’s strategic needs.
  3. Complementing Existing Talent: The acquisition of Smith and Wonnum would not only bolster the Lions’ pass rush but also complement Hutchinson’s emerging dominance. This approach signifies the Lions’ commitment to building a multifaceted and formidable defensive front, poised to elevate their overall defensive performance.

The Bottom Line: Strategic Augmentation

The Detroit Lions’ link to Za’Darius Smith and D.J. Wonnum signals a clear intention to address the pressing need for enhanced quarterback pressure through strategic acquisitions. By potentially integrating Smith’s versatility and Wonnum’s tactical fit into their defensive lineup, the Lions aim not just to build on the progress made in 2023 but to elevate their defensive prowess to new heights. Such moves could not only complement Hutchinson’s rising star but also fortify the Lions’ defense as a formidable unit capable of challenging the best offenses in the NFL. As free agency discussions heat up, all eyes will be on Detroit to see how these potential additions could reshape the Lions’ defensive strategy in the coming season.

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W.G. Brady
W.G. Brady
W.G. Brady is a Detroit-based journalist who has been covering the Detroit sports scene for Detroit Sports Nation for several years. He is in his early 30s and has a wealth of experience in the industry. Throughout his career, W.G. has established himself as a respected and knowledgeable journalist known for his in-depth coverage of the teams and athletes in Detroit. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for sports, W.G. has become a go-to source for fans and readers looking for the latest news and analysis on the Detroit sports scene. He has a good reputation in the sports community and is respected for his unbiased coverage of sports events. W.G. is known for his ability to uncover hidden stories and provide unique perspectives on the teams and athletes he covers. He has a good understanding of the city of Detroit and its sports culture, which he uses to inform his reporting and analysis. He continues to be a respected journalist in the Detroit sports industry.

Dylan Larkin weighs in after massive OT game-winning goal

Captain Clutch: Dylan Larkin weighs in after playing the role of OT hero for the Detroit Red Wings!

Dylan Larkin buries HUGE overtime goal for Red Wings [Video]

OT Hero: Dylan Larkin buries the overtime-winning goal for the Red Wings, who live to fight another day!

Amon-Ra St. Brown will not play with his brother Equanimeous

Amon-Ra St. Brown won't play with or against his brother during the upcoming regular season.