Detroit Lions Summer Football Camp: If there was a bright side to the injury woes that engulfed the Detroit Lions’ linebacking corps last year, it was that Antwione Williams got more experience than anyone expected.
A fifth-round pick out of Georgia Southern, Williams started the second game of his NFL career and two more last season. He was the team’s No. 3 linebacker for a good chunk of the year.
Instead of watching and learning and playing on special teams, as most expected, Williams went through a trial by fire that could help him emerge as a starter this fall.
The Lions drafted Jarrad Davis in the first round to be their starting middle linebacker, and Lions coach Jim Caldwell confirmed last week that Tahir Whitehead, last year’s starting middle linebacker, will move to the weak side.
Anquan Boldin was a 35-year-old free agent last summer, and the Lions scooped him up and got their receiving touchdowns leader out of it with Calvin Johnson retired. Boldin’s departure this offseason created another void to fill, and so the Lions sought out red-zone specialists in the draft in third-round Northern Illinois receiver Kenny Golladay and fourth-round Toledo tight end Michael Roberts.
Golladay has impressed in the very early stages of organized training activities, his 6-foot-4-inch, 218-pound presence serving as a focal point of team drills run at the goal line. But those plays take place in shorts, and they don’t come with the coverage disguises that test route running, a concern for Golladay entering the draft. Watch Lions NFL Game 2017.
The Lions view him as a future red-zone target for Stafford to complement the downfield play of Marvin Jones and the yards-after-catch game of Golden Tate. Filling that role as a rookie will be difficult, as NFL route trees continue to intensify the transition from college offenses, particularly those as simplistic as Golladay’s.