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Lions offseason questions: Second-year player to watch

Injuries forced the Detroit Lions to start several young players last season, and while most of them held their own, it's always tough to judge a rookie's performance and outlook based off just one year in the league.

The 2021 rookie class showed a lot of potential last year, which should be a good sign moving forward.

Which Lions rookie are you most excited to see make a year-two jump? I asked the crew, and here's what they had to say:

Tim Twentyman: Linebacker Derrick Barnes

Barnes was given a much greater role early in his rookie year when the Lions moved on from Jamie Collins Sr. Barnes had his ups and his downs, like all rookies do, but the Lions need him to take a big step forward in his development this year.

The Lions ranked 29th in total defense, 31st in points allowed and 31st against the run last season. If they're going to be better on that side of the ball, they need a number of second-year players to be better, including Barnes.

Go behind the scenes with the Detroit Lions during 2022 free agency.

Mike O'Hara: Defensive end Levi Onwuzurike

The Lions drafted Onwuzurike in the second round with the expectation that he could be a versatile addition with the ability to play inside or on the edge. It didn't work out that way. He had injures in training camp that slowed his development.

He played 16 of the 17 games without a start and contributed one sack and one quarterback hit. With the Lions going to a four-man defensive line, there's an opportunity for Onwuzurike to make an impact in his second season.

Editor's Pick: Cornerback Jerry Jacobs

Jacobs was one of my favorite storylines from the 2021 season. He went from a mostly unknown undrafted free agent to an integral part of the Lions' defense.

It was tough to watch him go down with an ACL injury Week 14 in Denver. He has a long road of rehab ahead of him, but if his rookie season taught us anything, it's that he's not afraid of a little adversity.

Jacobs is a locker room favorite, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do in his second season in the league.