In 2023, the Detroit Lions witnessed significant growth in their linebacking corps, primarily due to the addition of first-round pick Jack Campbell from Iowa. Expected to bolster the team’s defensive lineup, Campbell faced stiff competition from incumbent Alex Anzalone and emerging talent Derrick Barnes. Ultimately, Barnes secured the starting spot alongside Anzalone, showcasing the depth and competitiveness within the group.
Despite missing out on the starting role, Campbell made notable contributions throughout his rookie season, hinting at his potential for future development. Barnes, however, emerged as a standout performer, elevating his game to new heights and making crucial plays that propelled the Lions forward, including a game-clinching interception in the NFC Championship game against Tampa Bay.
Anzalone’s leadership and consistency were invaluable assets to the team, as he continued to excel in his role as a defensive captain, recording impressive tackle numbers and solidifying the Lions’ defense against the run. Alongside Anzalone and Barnes, Campbell showed glimpses of his talent, especially towards the end of the season, indicating a promising trajectory for his career.
Despite the positives, concerns lingered, particularly regarding the linebackers’ pass coverage abilities. Campbell struggled in this aspect, reflecting in his pass coverage grade from Pro Football Focus. While Barnes and Anzalone fared better, there’s a collective need for improvement in this area to fortify the team’s defensive capabilities.
Looking ahead to the offseason, the Lions face the pressing question of Campbell’s development. Will he take significant strides forward and solidify his role within the defense? With competition from Barnes and potential roster changes, Campbell must demonstrate growth and adaptability to secure his spot in the lineup for the upcoming season.
In summary, while the Lions’ linebacking corps showed promise and depth in 2023, there’s room for improvement, particularly in pass coverage. With Campbell’s development as a focal point, the team aims to address these concerns and build upon the successes of the previous season to further strengthen their defense in 2024.