After being a playoff contender last season, it's clear that the Detroit Lions have some playmakers on their team. Without these players, this team would be in a world full of trouble. Here are five players ranked based on their impact to the Lions in 2017.
Quarterback is the most important position in the game of football. Matthew Stafford is an elite player at his position. He was the sole reason that Detroit even made it to the playoffs last season. Bob Quinn knows this. That's why he addressed the offensive line in the off-season. As more talent is put around Stafford, everyone will finally see how great he is.
An elite pass rusher on defense is crucial to success on that side of the ball. Ezekial Ansah is that player for the Lions. He was bothered by injuries last season so he took a small step back. A healthy Ansah can give defensive coordinator Teryl Austin 10+ sacks a season. There isn't much of a pass rush threat outside of Ansah, making him the most important player on defense.
It's going to hurt the Lions not having their starting left tackle for a portion of the season. Even though Decker is out for 4-6 months with a shoulder injury, he still has the ability to be an anchor on the offensive line for years to come. Without his injury, Decker would be ranked second on this list ahead of Ansah.
Slay is quickly becoming one of the premiere cornerbacks in the NFL. Last season he showed signs of being elite. He picked off Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles late in the 4th quarter to seal a win for the Lions. He also intercepted a pass on Thanksgiving day against Minnesota that put them in position for a Matt Prater field goal as time expired. Look for Slay to elevate his game this season.
Tate is the most explosive player on offense for the Lions. He's had 90 catches or more in each of his three seasons with Detroit. Tate doesn't get a lot of the credit that he deserves on this offense. When he is firing on all cylinders, it seems like everyone else is. Once Marvin Jones finds some consistency, then we will see how much of an impact Tate can be.