The Detroit Lions haven’t had a player win a postseason award since 2012. Matthew Stafford took home the AP Comeback Player of the Year following that season. So while it has been several years since a Lions player took home hardware, it’s still worth looking at who on the team is most likely to win each postseason award. This is part two of a three part series to preview the Detroit Lions season. If you missed part one, you can find that here. The Detroit Lions Season Preview: Part Two is next!
Categories & Stipulations
This award “predictor” will cover the mvp, offensive and defensive player of the year, rookie offensive and defensive player of the year, and comeback player of the year. Only one player will be eligible per category, so there will be six unique players covered here. With the stipulations out of the way, its time to dive in to the Lions player most likely to win each NFL award.
Stafford has been on many lists as a favorite for the comeback player of the year, but for this exercise he is the clear choice MVP. Stafford is a polarizing player whose talent hasn’t equated to team success thus far. However, when Stafford is healthy, he is a top-10 quarterback who can single-handedly lead the Lions to the playoffs. He might have the most well-rounded offense in his career this year. Detroit has spent multiple high round picks in recent years to improve the offense and its time for those pieces to come together and take this team over the top. While he may never replicate the 5000 yard season he had in 2011, he is capable of topping 4000 yards and 30 touchdowns. On a playoff team, those stats have him in the mvp conversation at the end of the year.
Offensive Player of the Year
Golladay was drafted in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of Northern Illinois. In his two seasons with the Huskies he topped the 1000 yard barrier both season and totaled 18 touchdowns. He has prototypical size for an outside receiver in the NFL, but not many would have projected the trajectory his career is currently on. He has become one of the better receivers in the NFL and will often be in range of 1000 yards and 10 touchdowns annually. Golladay led the league in touchdowns in 2019 and marked his first Pro Bowl selection last year. Playing in Detroit has kept him under the radar, but he is another stellar season from stardom.
Defensive Player of the Year
A quick look at the Lions defense won’t produce a slam dunk candidate for this award. Since 2000, only two cornerbacks have won the defensive player of the year. Charles Woodson and Stephon Gilmore are definitely in a class above Trufant, but on a defense that is rather void of impact players he makes the most sense. Gilmore, who won the award last season, had six interceptions and 20 passes defended in 2019 over 16 games. In just nine games last year, Trufant had four interceptions and seven passes defended. It may be a stretch, but not unreasonable to think he could rise to that level in 2020.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
While Quintez Cephus would be a bit more out there and bold this is a pretty simple choice. The Lions invested a second round pick on Swift and will expect him to contribute this season. His benefit will come from not needing to be the featured back from day one, joining a stable of backs with Kerryon Johnson, Adrian Peterson, and Bo Scarbrough. Even though he may be eased into his role, he will absolutely be expected to contribute in a big way and could take over lead back duties by season end. His last two years at Georgia had only 39 more carries than Jonathan Taylor’s final season at Wisconsin. He will need to put those fresh legs to use this season.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Players drafted in the top five are expected to be immediate contributors and Okudah is no exception. While he likely won’t start the year as a top two corner, he is expected to be the Lions premiere cover corner soon. He finished completed his final year at Ohio State without committing a holding or pass interference penalty. That speaks to his ability and technique playing the position. Julian Okwara may see more playing time initially as part of a defensive line rotation, but Okudah is the star of the draft for Detroit and will have to fill that role for the team to have success.
Comeback Player of the Year
Matthew Stafford might be the favorite in the entire NFL to win this award, but was ineligible for this exercise as he was selected as the favorite for mvp. Johnson was also a second round pick for the Lions and has yet to play a full season. Coming into his third year it will be on him to seize the starting position and hold onto it. He has shown the flashes that Detroit saw when they selected him from Auburn, and now its time to become a reliable player or risk being passed over by his peers.
The Detroit Lions Season Preview: Part Two is in the books. The third and final part will be a game by game breakdown of the 2020 season and a record prediction at the end. Do you think any of these awards have other favorites? Let us know in the comments below!