Lions general manager Brad Holmes feels especially good about three position groups heading into the regular season.
In a joint press conference with head coach Dan Campbell on Thursday, Holmes talked about the offensive line being strong, and how he really likes where the team is at running back.
Defensively, Holmes pointed to the defensive line as a group he believes is talented and deep.
"I love where we're at upfront heading into it," Holmes said of the defensive line. "We knew coming down to it that we would be relatively deep there."
The defensive line is probably the deepest position group on the team, even with veteran Da'Shawn Hand heading to injured reserve with a groin injury this week.
Veteran Michael Brockers, who the team traded for this offseason, missed most of training camp, but is now back at practice. He said last week he'll be ready for the 49ers Week 1. With Brockers back, Detroit is especially deep along the interior of the defensive line.
Veterans Nick Williams, Kevin Strong and John Penisini are proven commodities in this league, but there's a lot of excitement in Detroit around the potential of their newest additions to the interior of the defensive front – rookies Alim McNeill and Levi Onwuzurike.
"Obviously, with the development and again, credit to the coaching staff, but how quickly that an Alim McNeill quickly got developed, how Levi (Onwuzurike) when he was kind of able to get back out there more, he just kept getting better each week and then each (preseason) game it showed up," Holmes said.
"When you draft these guys and they're rookies, it's like you hope that they can contribute, but you don't know how quickly that they'll get acclimated. Alim actually earning a starting role for us and then Levi seems like he's going to be a contributor for us, at least at this point. We feel good."
Still, Brockers is the key piece upfront for Detroit's defense, and the fact that he's back and ready to roll is huge. He registered 51 tackles, 10 quarterback hits and five sacks in 15 games with the Los Angeles Rams last season. By comparison, Detroit got just four sacks last season from their interior defenders upfront.
"(Michael) Brockers, we know who Brockers is from a veteran presence," Holmes said. "We feel good about the direction that he's headed heading into Week 1.
"You've got guys like Kevin Strong that had a good camp. John Penisini, he's been a solid rotational contributor at the nose tackle position. Even Jashon (Cornell) when he's able to come back (suspended first three games). We felt really good about. We know it's a deep group, but we know we might have had to make some tough decisions that were good football players for somebody else."
San Francisco will be a good first test for the interior defenders. The 49ers have a good offensive line, want to run the football, and they play with tempo on offense. It won't take long to see what kind of impact Detroit's defensive front can have Week 1.