Does this change also point to the Detroit Lions drafting Aidan Hutchinson?
If that’s the plan, does it still suggest that Flowers is expendable, making Romeo Okwara and Hutchinson the likely starters in 2022?
I don’t think this scheme shift does much to change Detroit’s defensive plans. Campbell admitted the shift to more four-down looks was made because it fits their talent better. That shows this team is not just talking the talk when they say the players will determine the scheme. So if they believe Kayvon Thibodeaux is the better player or like Kyle Hamilton more, they will take talent over scheme fit and adjust the defense accordingly.
I wouldn’t call Flowers expendable because you can never have too many pass rushers, and you cannot be too sure of how Romeo Okwara will look coming off an Achilles injury, but again, it’s the contract that works against Flowers more than anything else.
Do you see a scenario where the Lions could start the 2022 season with Flowers, Romeo Okwara, Charles Harris, and a rookie edge all rostered? If so, could Harris become a pass-rush specialist without having his hand in the dirt in a four-man front aligning as an outside linebacker?
I have fully adopted “never say never” when it comes to the NFL, but I would be very surprised if all of that happened. I’m all for investing heavily in pass rushers, but keeping Flowers and re-signing Charles Harris after giving Romeo Okwara a big extension last offseason means you’re devoting an exorbitant amount of cap resources to the position, which will make it significantly harder to address other pressing needs like linebacker, safety, and wide receiver. Throwing another draft pick on the pile is overkill.
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Take either Flowers or Charles Harris out of the equation (maybe both), and I think that is a reasonable expectation for the Lions’ 2022 defensive end room. But let’s not forget that both Julian Okwara and Austin Bryant showed some growth last year and could serve as decent rotational depth behind Romeo Okwara and (hypothetically) Hutchinson.