From time to time during the offseason Tim Twentyman will answer 10 good questions from his Twitter account @ttwentyman in a feature we call "10 Questions with Twentyman."
20man: I think Graham Glasgow has the edge. Glasgow was drafted by Bob Quinn in the third round last year and already supplanted Laken Tomlinson in the starting lineup once last season. The wild card here is Joe Dahl. I really haven't seen much of him because most of his rookie season was spent relearning how to run block, sharpen technique and get comfortable playing inside after playing tackle in a pass-happy scheme at Washington State. Quinn said he was "excited" to see what Dahl can provide the Lions moving forward. Still, the fact that Glasgow has a year of experience being in the fire gives him the edge, in my opinion.
20man: Taylor Decker is one that jumps out to me right away. He's come back this offseason in terrific shape, and I expect a big season from him. I'll be the first to admit I didn't expect him to have the kind of rookie season he did. He played every snap and made the Pro Football Writers All-Rookie Team. He was graded the 12th-best left tackle in football last season by Pro Football Focus as a rookie.
The exciting thing for the Lions has to be that most of the time a player's biggest jump in development comes from year one to year two. I thought it was very telling of Decker's potential when veteran T.J. Lang, after watching some film of Detroit's line last season, predicted Pro Bowls in Decker's future. That's a player who knows what it takes to make the Pro Bowl, having earned that honor himself last season. I'm not predicting Decker will make the Pro Bowl this season, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if he's considered among the top 10 at the position when this season is over.
20man: If Ziggy Ansah stays healthy, the Lions should be fine in that department. Ansah was beat up all last year, and it resulted in him having only two recorded sacks. Had he been healthy, and managed to simply match the 14.5 sacks from his Pro Bowl season in 2015, the Lions would have recorded 38.5 sacks as a team, which would have ranked in the top 10 in the NFL.
Kerry Hyder (8.0 sacks) and Armonty Bryant (3.0 in five games) showed they can get after the quarterback some. The team thinks free-agent signee Cornelius Washington is a good fit in this scheme. The problem is if Ansah gets hurt. If that happens, that unit will be without a proven double-digit sacker, and we could see some of the same struggles we saw last season. That's the gamble Quinn made without signing a proven veteran in free agency or drafting a pass rusher high.
That unit really hinges on Ansah staying healthy, Hyder being able to duplicate or improve on last season's breakout year, Bryant being just as productive over a longer stretch, Washington being a scheme fit, and young guys like Anthony Zettel and Pat O'Connor improving. There's a lot of moving pieces there, but it mostly hinges on the first one -- Ansah staying healthy.
20man: Washington is going to have to leapfrog Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and Zach Zenner. That might be tough based on what I saw from Washington last season. My selection would be A'Shawn Robinson. No one is really talking about him this spring, but I think he's going to have a monster second season.
It's rare for a rookie to be playing as well as he was late in the season last year. He was a two-gap tackle his whole college career at Alabama, so he was still learning some one-gap scheme technique stuff along the way last year. I think the Lions are going to set him loose from the middle this year, and he's going to be much more of a factor in the pass rush. I think he'll have a very good year.
20man: It certainly could be if Quinn is right about Jarrad Davis and Jalen Reeves-Maybin. It's been well documented by myself and others how much the Lions lacked impact plays from the linebacker position last season. Not to mention they were terrible in pass coverage for the most part from those spots. Both Davis and Reeves-Maybin bring much needed speed to the position, and should provide better coverage.
My expectation is that Davis takes over at the MIKE – potentially Day 1 – and Reeves-Maybin becomes a playmaker at the WILL. We won't know how good either player really is until the pads come on in August and the hitting starts. I'll have a better answer for you then.
20man: The Lions drafted Kenny Golladay in the third round, and he could fill one of the receiver spots after Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr.. But after Golladay, it's really anyone's game for the fourth and fifth spots. Quinn said veteran Anquan Boldin signing in Detroit is still an option, but who knows if that will happen. Jace Billingsley could emerge as a slot receiver that fills one of those last couple spots, but it really appears to be an open competition for those last couple spots. That's why I think one of the undrafted receivers the Lions signed – Michael Rector (Stanford), Noel Thomas (UConn) and Dontez Ford (Pitt) – have as good a shot as anyone to make the roster out of camp.
Two other names to watch out for are defensive end Alex Barrett out of San Diego State and cornerback Des Lawrence from North Carolina. If Barrett can impress in training camp and the preseason, teams always find a way to make room for good pass rushers in the NFL. Lawrence has ideal size at 6-foot-1 and three years of starting experience. It's crowded at cornerback with the additions of DJ Hayden, Teez Tabor and Jamal Agnew, but Lawrence's length sets him apart if he's able to make plays this summer.
20man: Unfortunately for Ebron, I don't know if he will ever be able to live up to the pick status in some fans' minds. That's really no fault of Ebron's, either. He didn't select himself with the 10th pick. The fact that one of the best defensive players in the game today, Aaron Donald, and one of the most dynamic receivers playing right now, Odell Beckham Jr., were selected after Ebron will always follow him around.
I think Ebron is a terrific talent, who is just starting to come into his own. I think he's a matchup nightmare for defenses, when he's healthy. Does he need to limit the drops (seven last year)? Certainly. Can he do that? I think he can limit them if he continues to work at it. His 61 catches and 711 yards both ranked in the top 10 in the league among tight ends last season. I think his touchdowns will increase this season, especially if Boldin doesn't return in the slot. I expect Ebron to have a very good season and be among the top 10 tight ends in the NFL again.
20man: Don't discount how important special teams were to Detroit's overall success a season ago. Detroit's punt and kickoff cover teams yielded a total of 704 return yards in 2016 (210 on punts and 494 on kickoffs), which was the lowest total kick return yards allowed by the team since at least 1941. The Lions haven't allowed a return touchdown in each of the last two seasons. With how many close games they played over that stretch, one return score could have turned the tide.
The punt coverage team, which Bademosi and Carey are main players on, allowed an average of just 6.0 yards per return, the lowest mark since 2002 (4.5). I would add linebacker Nick Bellore to your list of names as well. It's crowded at linebacker now, but he's a terrific special teams player.
The Lions obviously can't keep a trio of players on the 53-man roster just for special teams purposes. They must serve other roles, too. Carey is the fourth safety right now, and can also play the slot in a jam, which he's been pressed to do before.
The Lions were ranked the No. 2 overall special teams unit in 2016 in the comprehensive rankings compiled annually by nationally respected columnist Rick Gosselin. Now, imagine they stay just as strong on special teams but are also much improved on defense in 2017 and add a running game to their repertoire on offense. The best teams in this league are well rounded teams, and special teams is included in that. If there's room for some good special teams players on the 53-man roster, I say find a way to keep them.
20man:I think Abdullah certainly has a shot to reach 1,000 yards behind a much-improved offensive line, but I highly doubt both can reach that mark. I expect Abdullah to get somewhere around 200 carries, probably doubling the next highest total. If Abdullah stays healthy and is running well, I'd expect Riddick to take on more of a role in the passing game. The Lions haven't had a 1,000-yard rusher since Reggie Bush in 2013. Before that, we must go back to Kevin Jones in 2004. So, let's not get ahead of ourselves here. Abdullah staying healthy and reaching the mark would be a good start.
20man: He certainly has more competition to navigate now if that's going to be the case. There are some veteran players on this roster who think that will be the case for Williams. Williams has ideal size and length. He showed some real promise as a rookie and will be one of those guys to watch over OTAs, minicamp and training camp.