The Lions just wrapped up their week 1 matchup against the Eagles, failing to mount a comeback and falling 38-35. This may have been a loss for the team but there were certainly a few guys that exceeded my expectations greatly, and a few guys I’d lookout for the rest of the year.
Former 3rd overall pick in 2020 Jeff Okudah had an abysmal start to his career. Thrown into a dumpster fire that was the 2020 Lions defense with seemingly no warmup and being asked to shadow opposing teams number one receivers in a division that contains so many great options was most definitely not the greatest situation for Okudah to be in. He was getting burnt left and right, he couldn’t catch a break. He’d shown flashes of being that top 3 talent he was projected to be but could never break through. With a new coaching staff and the emergence of Amani Oruwariye fans hoped to see a better version of Okudah in 2021.
Things didn’t get much better in 2021 as he would miss practically the entire season with a torn achilles he suffered in the first game of the season. Fully recovered from the achilles injury Okudah is out for blood. Against the Eagles in week one Okudah rallied up 10 total tackles and allowed just two catches for four yards. One of the catches he allowed was a screen that he blew up for a huge TFL. He shadowed Devonta Smith most of the game and looked extremely confident. He looked like the player Lions fans expected him to be for the first time ever. Okudah was everywhere today, breaking up passes, making crucial tackles, he really looked special. The Lions defense is not very good, if Jeff Okudah can provide consistency and good football it’s going to make things a whole lot easier for the team in upcoming years. After seeing his play today I am expecting Okudah to have a huge rest of the season, really solidifying himself as a top player on this defense. Hopefully this was the game Okudah needed to prove the people who slandered his name and called him a bust wrong.
The second player I expect to be a monster the last 16 games is D.J Chark. Chark being one of the Lions biggest free agent acquisitions and fresh off a broken ankle, the former Jaguar Chark was expected to be a nice complimentary piece to superstar in the making Amon-Ra St. Brown and be used as another asset to Jared Goff. Chark being only 25 fits the Lions timeline perfectly should be an exciting player in Detroit. Chark was extremely fun to watch against the Eagles, he had 4 catches, 52 yards and a monster touchdown with Darius Slay draped all over him. You may look at the stat line and think that it isn’t as impressive as I am making it out to be, but Chark played extremely well. With a few better throws from Jared Goff this stat line would look plenty different. He was getting open with ease today, really looking polished as a route runner. Chark uses his combination of speed and size really well, he has very good ball control and positions himself where he needs to be. If Chark can keep up this play he’s going to be very very successful this season. If all goes well for Chark and the Lions QB situation pans out I can easily see Chark putting up a 750+ yard season especially since we don’t know the timetable of first rounder Jameson Williams. Expect Chark to continue to improve and up his game as the weeks go by.