A big factor in Detroit's inability to consistently get to opposing quarterbacks last season was a banged-up Ziggy Ansah.
Ansah battled through a high-ankle sprain he suffered in Week 2 all season long, and some other injuries (shoulder) that popped up along the way. He wound up with just two sacks. That coming off a 14.5-sack season in 2015.
The Lions finished 30th in the NFL with just 26 sacks as a team last season. If Ansah had been able to stay healthy, and match his sack total from the previous season, the Lions would have finished with 38.5 sacks, which would have ranked in the top nine in the NFL, right behind Buffalo (39) and ahead of Pittsburgh (38).
It probably explains why Lions general manager Bob Quinn said he's confident Detroit's sack numbers can bounce back in 2017 with the current players he has on the roster, led by Ansah.
"I feel good," Quinn said in his post-draft press conference when asked about his pass-rushing situation. "Ziggy Ansah, Kerry Hyder, Cornelius Washington. Guys on the inside, A'Shawn (Robinson), Armonty Bryant, (Anthony) Zettel. I feel good."
Ansah had just as much confidence as Quinn when asked about the group on Tuesday.
"We do have a lot of confidence in these guys (Hyder and Bryant) and then we added Washington," he said. "Kerry is like a superstar. He's somebody that will come at 100 percent. He puts in the work."
Hyder is one of the favorites to earn a starting job opposite Ansah this season after leading the team with eight sacks a season ago. It was his first season playing defensive end after making the switch from defensive tackle last offseason. It was also his first season as a full-time roster player.
Brandon Copeland, Anthony Zettel and seventh-round draft pick Pat O'Connor will also be in the mix for roles.
"Just working out with them in the weight room you can see that these guys are out there to kill it," Ansah said of his teammates. "They are working and willing to get better."
Ansah takes responsibility for not doing his part last season, and is looking forward to getting back to terrorizing the league's passers in 2017.
He'll have a new running mate starting opposite him with Devin Taylor no longer on the roster. Whoever that ends up being, Ansah has confidence they'll be able get the job done.
"I'm really focused this year. I'm excited for what we have coming up," Ansah said. "It's definitely going to be better than last year."