The 2022 Detroit Lions had one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Injuries, a lack of depth and a lack of high-level talent limited the team’s defense throughout the season. Detroit ranked dead last in yardage allowed and 28th in points allowed this past season.
GM Brad Holmes quickly upgraded a pass defense that ranked 30th in passing yards allowed and 23rd in passing touchdowns allowed. Holmes signed cornerbacks Cam Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley. He signed safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson as well. Then in the draft, he acquired safety/slot corner Brian Branch. Detroit’s overhauled secondary is now expected to be significantly more respectable in 2023.
Detroit’s run defense is a different story. The Lions ranked 29th in both rushing yards and touchdowns allowed in 2022. The team was soft in the middle with injuries to Michael Brockers and Levi Onwuzurike. Isaiah Buggs and Benito Jones provided replacement-level play, but it was not enough to hold a stout run defense. Outside of Alim McNeill, the Lions lacked significant playmakers along their interior defensive line.
Despite a glaring need at the position, Holmes did not acquire interior defensive linemen in free agency. Many expected the GM to pursue the likes of Jalen Carter, Calijah Kancey or Bryan Bresee in the first round of the draft. However, Holmes had other plans. At the tail end of the third round, the Detroit Lions traded up to the 96th pick and selected Western Kentucky’s, Brodric Martin.
Brodric Martin’s scouting profile for the Detroit Lions
Martin boasts elite size at 6-foot-5 and 337 pounds. Pro Football Focus compared Martin to a poor man’s Jordan Davis. He is a space-eating defensive tackle who can clog holes in run defense. He moves well for his size, and he has the awareness to handle two-gapping duties.
However, Martin struggles to consistently gain leverage and hold his anchor. He needs to develop his bend, hand use and overall technique to become a more reliable player.
Martin has the bull-rushing upside to be an intriguing pass rusher one day, but on day one he is likely a rotational defensive lineman who will compete for snaps with Buggs, Jones and Onwuzurike.
Brodric Jones can bolster the Detroit Lions’ run defense
Jones eats blocks in run defense. He has the strength to throw blockers aside and the ability to diagnose proper cut-off angles when he gets into the backfield.
If there is one thing Martin will contribute early at the NFL level is stout run defense. Paired with McNeill, the Lions will have the bodies and athleticism in the middle to hold their own on runs up the middle. Fellow rookie Jack Campbell’s ability to sort through the trash and plug holes will be key to an improved Detroit run defense as well.
Martin is not the level of prospect as Carter, Bresee and Kancey, but Holmes attacked this draft to target only the guys he wanted, regardless of positional value. With the GM’s track record for finding gems in the mid-to-late rounds, there is no reason to doubt Holmes’ evaluation of Martin.
For more from the author, Thomas Chavez, check him out on Twitter here: @tlchavez43
Featured Image Credit: © Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports
Tweet: @WoodwoodSports or comment on your favorite social media platform!