Detroit Lions: How will Michael Brockers fit in on the defensive front?

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

Detroit Lions general manager (GM) Brad Holmes continues to re-tool the lifeless roster left behind by the previous regime.

Holmes has been busy trimming the fat and working the phones.  Recently the newly appointed GM parted ways with a host of players, including corners Justin Coleman, Desmond Trufant, along with Jesse James, Chase Daniel, Joe Dahl, Christian Jones, and Danny Shelton.  Plus the organization opted to let Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay walk in free agency.

After trading Matthew Stafford to his former employer for a pair of first-round draft picks, a third-round choice, and Jared Goff, Holmes recently returned to the well getting a Pro Bowl defensive lineman in Michael Brockers for a seventh-round draft pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.  Can you say highway robbery?

The 30-year old Brockers, by all accounts, is beloved by his teammates, had been a captain with the Rams, and someone who will surely help support the Detroit Lions culture change moving forward.

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Where will Michael Brockers fit in with the Detroit Lions?

I expect Brockers to fit in playing a three, four, or five-technique depending on which defensive front the Detroit Lions are using on any given play.  That leaves a player like John Penisini as the potential starting nose tackle, flanked by either Trey Flowers, Da’Shawn Hand, or Brockers depending on the package.

If the Detroit Lions are in a base formation, I expect the defensive front to be Hand, Penisini, Brockers with Flowers, and Romeo Okwara working as pass-rushers.  Flowers may spend more time without his hand in the dirt in 2021 than we’ve seen over the past two seasons.

Base defenses are few and far between in the modern NFL with the number of spread offenses the league has to offer which makes interchangeable defenses extremely important these days.

Brockers is a three-down lineman but has limitations when it comes to rushing the passer.  I expect to see Nick Williams mixed in on third down in a rotational role in ’21.  The Lions are also likely to utilize Julian Okwara and Austin Bryant as a WILL linebacker that is forced to drop into coverage at times and pressure the quarterback opposite Romeo Okwara.

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Brockers earned an overall grade of 64.4, his lowest since 2013.  That mark included a 60.9 mark defending the run and 62.7 as a pass rusher.  Brockers earned marks of 82.6, 68.1, 89.2, and 81.6 as a run defender before last season.

Brockers accumulated 48 combined tackles, five sacks, and 30 total pressures last season for the Rams.

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I am somewhat concerned if Brockers’ overall success had been aided by playing alongside Aaron Donald throughout his career with the Rams.  The Detroit Lions need him to become an Alpha-type propelling the play of Flowers, Okwara, Hand, and Penisini if they hope to have success immediately.