Michael Brockers has a ton of knowledge gained over a productive 10-year NFL career playing in the trenches along the defensive line. When asked about his leadership style Thursday after Detroit's second open OTA practice, Brockers said he's more of a passive leader.
"I try to be passive because I don't want to rub anybody the wrong way," Brockers said. "Some guys have their own niches and own stuff and I don't want to be that guy that comes in and says, 'Oh hey, you're doing everything wrong.'
"I try to just give my little two cents if there's something I feel like I can give them that they can take, I'll do it, but other than that, I'm just trying to find my way around. I don't want to just claim that I'm a captain or anything like that, but wherever I can put my little two cents in and give you a little knowledge here and there or wisdom, I'll do it."
It would be wise for Detroit's fellow defense linemen to take note of that, especially rookies Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill. Brockers has been a very good and productive player in this league for a decade now, and the Lions are expecting him to have a big impact not only on the field but in the defensive line room as well.
"There's a number of reasons why we made the trade we did for this guy," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said of Brockers. "Aside from the fact that he's a hell of a player, he just does things right, you know? He handles his business. He's a true pro.
"I mean, he walked right in the door and you could tell he's been honed in on the Zoom and his technique is like spot on. He's a pro. He's a vet. He's a pro that understands what it's supposed to look like and he's all business."
A first-round pick in 2012, Brockers has spent his entire nine-year NFL career with the Rams before being traded to the Lions this offseason. He's expected to provide an immediate presence on the interior of the defensive line in Detroit, along with John Penisini, and the rookies Onwuzurike and McNeill. Brockers said his message to Onwuzurike and McNeill has been to be a sponge and have the ability to adjust on the fly.
Brockers' pass rush win rate (6.5 percent) and run stop win rate (27 percent) are welcome additions for a Detroit defense that struggled in both areas last season. Brockers, 30, had 51 tackles, 10 quarterback hits and 5.0 sacks in 15 games last season. He's recorded at least 50 tackles in four straight seasons and has a combined 13.5 sacks over that span.
He comes to Detroit after playing for a really good Rams defensive front over the years. Los Angles stockpiled talent upfront on defense, which is something GM Brad Holmes has begun to do here in Detroit with the re-signing of Romeo Okwara, the trade for Brockers and selecting Onwuzurike and McNeill in the second and third rounds of the draft this offseason.
View photos from the fourth day of OTAs on Wednesday, June 2nd.
"I think just building in the trenches ... it takes a little time because you have to wait for those picks to come in, but when you build from the trenches, I just think you're building from your foundation up," Brockers said.
"One thing I can see is we have a lot of talent – a lot of young talent – but a lot of talent. When we get after it, there's a lot of effort that's going to be out there and a lot of guys flying around. The biggest thing is about our rotation and being fresh on Sundays."
Brockers likes the coaching and the scheme, and says he's in a really good place getting a new start late in his career. The Lions are expecting him to be a big part of a revamped, and hopefully more impactful, defensive line group in 2021.