Organized team activities (OTAs) start for the Detroit Lions this week, and the buzz in the Motor City is electric. Fans are genuinely ready for this new era to kickoff. And Lions head coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes are to thank for that. From their coaching staff hires to their first draft class together, they’ve done an exceptional job. 

Regardless, the Lions organization are entering OTAs this year with basically a whole new franchise. And because of that, it’s hard to predict who will be the team’s top performer. However, there are three players who will be very vital to the Lions’ success this season.  

And this season is their chance to prove it. 

Amon-Ra St. Brown needs to be Jared Goff favorite target.

Let’s keep it a buck about the Lions’ wide receivers. They are nothing to write home about. While Quintez Cephus shows great promise, the signings of Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman haven’t excited the masses. No one is drinking the Honolulu Blue Kool-aid over them.

Well, not yet anyway. 

Nevertheless, Amon-Ra St. Brown is one guy that has fans head over heels. And he has yet to take a snap. So why all of the St. Brown love? Simply put, it’s his potential.

And boy, does he have a lot of it.

In 2019 at USC, he caught 77 passes for 1,042 yards and six touchdowns. While his last year at USC was great, there’s other reasons why he’ll be a player to look out for this season. St. Brown comes to Detroit with a massive chip on his shoulder. And it stems from his draft-day slide.

Dec 18, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (8) scores on a 47-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter against the Oregon Ducks during the Pac-12 Championship at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

“I’m never going to forget the 15 receivers that went before me in the draft,” St. Brown said on Day 3 of rookie minicamp Sunday. “That’s kind of the chip that I have on my shoulder coming in, everything that I do. Whenever I’m thinking about anything, that just comes back to my mind, and it just motivates me to do more.” 

There were actually 17 wideouts taken before him, but hey, who’s counting?

When he fell to the Lions in the fourth round, Brad Holmes, in his own words, got Lions fans off his a**. With offseason exits by Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay, Lions fans began to worry about which dynamic talent, besides T.J. Hockenson, would catch passes from Jared Goff. 

St. Brown can be that dynamic talent. Him and Goff developing a rapport early in the season will be necessary for the Lions’ success. His route running skills and ability to get 50-50 balls could make him a favorite target for Goff.

Jamaal Williams will become fans favorite Detroit Lions player.

Some have people don’t have energy for anything in life. And then some have an endless supply of it. There is a guy with an infinite amount of it. His name is Jamaal Williams, and he’s now in Motown.

His arrival is a good thing for Lions fans. As fans prepare to return to Ford Field this season, it’s hit or miss how much they will have to cheer about. Despite the question marks about the on-field product, Williams can become a fan-favorite off positivity alone. Although Williams has a great personality, that’s not why the Lions poached him from division rival, Green Bay Packers. Williams is in Detroit because he can ball out. 

“I’m just ready to bring in a workload,” Williams said in an interview on the team website. “If you give me the ball more if you let me go to work, good things happen. I’m a real workhorse.

“During the whole game, I get better and better. I look for how defenses are working. Are they mentally breaking?”

That mindset makes Williams someone the Detroit Lions need. He fits the mold of the culture shift the organization is initiating. The combination of he and D’Andre Swift could be a lethal running back committee for the Lions. Williams comes to Detroit as the durable running back that Kerryon Johnson wasn’t. Over the past four seasons, he’s only missed a total of four games. 

Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams (30) rushes against the defense of Tampa Bay Buccaneers inside linebacker Devin White (45) during the NFC Championship game on Sunday, January 24, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.Wm. Glasheen USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin Apc Packers Vs Bucs Nfc Champ 2327 012421 Wag

Last season with the Packers, he rushed for 505 yards, averaging 4.2 yards per run and two touchdowns. Outside of Swift, Williams performed better than any other Lions rusher last season. With a revamped offensive line and the blessing of Anthony Lynn, Williams can leap from being a backup to a vital part of what Detroit does this season.

Is this the big year in Motown for Trey Flowers?

Last but not least, there is Trey Flowers.

When news broke of the Detroit Lions moving to a 3-4 defense, questions began to swirl. And one of the bigger ones surrounded Flowers. After all, he was a free agent prospect that several teams tried (and failed) at landing. He was arguably the most sought-after free agent in 2019, and if you disagree, take a look at his contract. 

While Flowers is paid like an elite talent, his time in Detroit hasn’t lived up to expectations. And if you read the tea leaves from him and several other players, Matt Patricia is largely to blame for that. 

Edge rushers: Starters – Trey Flowers, Romeo Okwara. Backups: *Julian Okwara, Austin Bryant, *Jashon Cornell. Gallery cutline

Now there is a new regime in place, one that is laying out clear expectations, fans should expect a breakout season from Flowers. Last Thursday, defensive line coach Todd Walsh confirmed that in the new 3-4 system, Flowers, along with Romeo Okwara, will play outside linebacker. And when the Lions dive into their sub-packages, Flowers will move back to the defensive end. 

“He’s got a great skill set for what we’re trying to do,” said Walsh. 

“Every one of the players that we have on our defensive roster have a skill set. It’s going to be our job obviously as coaches to put them in that position to be successful, and I think Trey has that skill set as a defensive end in base and also in sub.”

Talk about a vote of confidence. As Flowers enters the third year of his five-year, $90 million deal, now’s the time for him to be the face of the Detroit Lions defense. And he has the tools to do it. The big question is how (and when) he will unleash them. 

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