One of the main areas for concern heading into the offseason for the Detroit Lions was the Defense. The new Campbell-Holmes regime inherited a historically bad defense that was previously run by Matt Patricia, which ultimately led to his firing. Not much progress was made in the first season of the regime, as the defense was once again one of the worst in the league. The Lions’ defense ranked 24th in pass defense and 28th in rushing defense. This lack of defensive accomplishment was heavily confronted at the 2022 NFL Draft. The Lions selected six defensive players out of their eight total picks. The headlining selection of these six players was Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. However, one of these selections is being sorely overlooked, and is poised to have an immediate impact. Josh Paschal, defensive end out of Kentucky, was selected by the Lions in the second round. Despite being selected on day two, the athleticism, instinct and production he showed while at Kentucky is noteworthy. One aspect that attracted the Lions to select Paschal is his versatility. Kentucky lined him up at multiple positions, showing off his ability to play inside and outside on the defensive line. During his time with the Wildcats, Paschal started 37 games, producing 37 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. In 2021, Paschal recorded the second most tackles for loss in the SEC with 15.5, while also accumulating a career high of 5.5 sacks. One of the simplest ways that Paschal impacts this Lions’ defensive front is through depth. With the addition of Hutchinson and Paschal, the Lions have a bolstered rotation that already consists of multiple successful edge rushers. Defensive end Charles Harris recorded 7.5 sacks last season, which was higher than his career sack total through 4 seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins. The Okwara brothers, Romeo and Julian, both have successfully displayed their ability to get after the quarterback. Julian Okwara recorded 5 sacks in 13 games last season, and despite facing a torn Achilles last season, Romeo Okwara had a nice 2020 campaign, recording 10 sacks. The depth of the defensive line should allow for a better rotation, which will certainly allow guys to stay healthy and result in a more energetic pass rush. Paschal is currently recovering from sports hernia surgery due to a college injury that was reaggravated. Dan Campbell has stated that Paschal is ahead of schedule for his recovery. With attention drawn elsewhere on the Lions’ defensive line, Paschal should have plenty of opportunity this upcoming season to flourish. If Paschal is able to develop into a productive pass rusher, he will be viewed as a steal.
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