Skip to main content

Lions offseason questions: Breakout player

The Detroit Lions are moving through the offseason workout program with Week 2 of OTAs up next.

With a new year comes new opportunity for every player on the Lions' roster. Which Lion could be poised for a breakout season? I asked the crew, and here's what they had to say:

Tim Twentyman: Defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson

Hutchinson was the Defensive Rookie of the Year runner-up after recording 9.5 sacks, nine tackles for loss, 15 quarterback hits and three picks in his first season in Detroit.

With the improvements the Lions made this offseason to their secondary, Hutchinson should expect even more time to get to the quarterback in Year 2. He can be a double-digit sack guy and a sneaky Defensive Player of the Year candidate in his second season.

View photos from Day 3 of Detroit Lions OTA practice on Thursday, May 25, 2023 in Allen Park, Mich.

Mike O'Hara: Running back Jahmyr Gibbs

Athletic skills and opportunity make Gibbs my choice. That's expecting a lot from a rookie, but there is a lot that favors Gibbs to hit the ground running – and receiving – in the Lions' offense.

Gibbs has speed (4.36 time in the 40), he led Alabama in rushing and receiving in 2022, and he has veteran David Montgomery to share the load and keep him fresh.

Playing in offensive coordinator Ben Johnson's scheme opens the door for Gibbs to have a big rookie season.

PJ's Pick: Running back David Montgomery

Stop me if you've heard this before - the Lions want to run the ball.

With the run game being the core of this offense, there's plenty of breakout potential to go around in the backfield. Mike can have the Rookie of the Year candidate in Gibbs, and I'll gladly take my chances on Montgomery setting new career highs in both rushing yards (1,070) and rushing touchdowns (8) in his first season behind one of the league's best offensive lines.

View photos of Detroit Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs, tight end Sam LaPorta and quarterback Hendon Hooker at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere.

Editor's Pick: Defensive lineman Josh Paschal

Paschal may get overlooked because he dealt with injuries last year, missing a lot of his rookie season. He flashed enough at times (2 sacks Week 17 vs. Bears) to make me think he could be special in his second season.

With proven playmakers like Hutchinson, Romeo Okwara and James Houston on the defensive line, that unit should be a strength this year, which will only help Paschal make his own plays. Let's see what he can do.