Five Detroit Lions to keep an eye on in 2015

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It’s May in the 365-day whirlwind that is the National Football League.National Football League.

The major NFL free agency splurge has passed. The NFL draft has come and gone and undrafted free agents have signed contracts. Tom Brady is in deep cow manure and Odell Beckham Jr. was just announced the new cover boy of Madden 16.

All this pretty much means we have turned a vital corner in finally seeing the full potential in the teams we love and what and who to watch out for in the upcoming season. In the case of the Detroit Lions, who I would consider are in a boom or bust situation this year, this concept is all the more truth. So in light of this, I’ve composed five players that could end up to be crucial x-factors to the Lions continued success or inevitable demise.

Let’s begin with an obvious choice….

TE Eric Ebron

(Photo credit: Andrew Weber - USA Today)
(Photo credit: Andrew Weber – USA Today)
NFL experts and Lions fans alike turned heads when the team selected the North Carolina TE/WR hybrid with the tenth overall selection in the 2014 draft. It’s safe to say Ebron didn’t prove many of his doubters wrong with his underachieving rookie season. He also lost a few supporters with his offseason Twitter escapades. Yet, his talent and young age remain critical factors to his upside. If he can harness the playbook and gain a more solid cohesion with QB Matthew Stafford then Ebron could very well be worth the draft selection so many doubted.

 DE Larry Webster

(Photo credit: Detroit Lions)
(Photo credit: Detroit Lions)
 No unit on the entire roster has been through quite the transition that the Lions defensive line has been in this offseason. The group had to totally replace its interior forces while also parting ways with coveted backup DE George Johnson. Looking for a guy to break out from this unit this season? Look no further than Larry Webster. He should get the shot he’s been waiting for this season and then some. Will he prove that his small-school dominance can transfer onto the big league stage? Or will he be just another Lions wasted project? We shall definitely see this fall.

RB Theo Riddick

 Theo+Riddick+Baltimore+Ravens+v+Detroit+Lions+j835Zf8eO_ml  The most intriguing position battle on the team once the preseason starts will no doubt be, in my mind, between the plethora of talented running backs that the Lions feature. The Lions running back battle will mainly consist of Joique Bell, Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah with George Winn and UDFA Zach Zenner in the back half of the depth chart. Riddick, in particular, enjoyed a much improved upon sophomore year in which he made his presence really felt (especially in the passing game). When Reggie Bush departed Detroit in free agency many speculated that the open touches would be Riddick’s to lose. Adding Abdullah to the mix should only motivate Riddick even more to show the Lions and the NFL that he can be more than just a situational pass target but also a starting running back in this league.

 LB Kyle Van Noy

(Photo credit: Mike Mulholland - mlive.com)
(Photo credit: Mike Mulholland – mlive.com)
 Injuries and common rookie mishaps shed a negative light on young Lions LB Kyle Van Noy in his rookie year. I would expect a lot different this season. I was thoroughly surprised when he slipped to the Lions in the second round in last year’s draft, as was many. He was seen as a first round talent in many aspects but especially in his capability to rush the quarterback. Because he spent a sizable part of his first year on the injured list and it took him a while to catch back up to the speed of the NFL game, I’m going give him the benefit of the doubt and declare his rookie season void. However, this is one second year player that can’t afford to go into the sophomore slump. The Lions need the talent they drafted him for, right now.

 WR’s Corey Fuller, Jeremy Ross, Ryan Broyles, TJ Jones, Lance Moore, Greg Salas

 Silhouette-question-mark  The Lions front office is leaving it to a game of chance to find their long-time searched upon impact third wide receiver this upcoming season. Each of the six names listed above have been sourced as a serious candidate for the job and you can expect a heavy battle for it heading all the way to the brink of the regular season. Each guy carries his own set of strengths and question marks so the real challenge is up to the coaching staff to figure out which guy will help Matthew Stafford & Co. the most in the offense. My guess? … Look for Corey Fuller to build upon his semi-successful season and show enough improvement to snag the job under everyone’s feet. Dark horse: Broyles (got to still believe right?)

Honorable Mention: Every rookie and every backup.