Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NFL. Throughout the year we ask questions of the most plugged-in Detroit Lions fans and fans across the country. Sign up here to participate.
This week we have two questions in our SB Nation Reacts survey:
- Are you confident the Lions are headed in the right direction?
- How many Lions should make the Pro Bowl?
After the Lions loss to the Dolphins, just 56% of fans believed the team was headed in the right direction. But after beating the Packers, that number shot up to 82%, and after beating the Bears, it jumped up to 91%. Now, after beating the Giants—who were 7-2 coming into the game—how high will fans’ confidence rise this week?
Alright, onto the second question.
Voting is now open for the 2023 Pro Bowl and the Lions are making a push to get some of their nominated players. Basically, every Lions player that is currently starting—and a few reserve contributors, like Derrick Barnes—are eligible. The best place to start is probably by looking at which Lions have recently made the Pro Bowl and asking ourselves, can they do it again?
In 2022, left guard Jonah Jackson was the Lions lone representative, and while he remains one of Detroit’s best players, guards are often under-appreciated. In a fan-vote-driven system, how many votes will he get outside the local market? For Jackson to get in again, he will probably need some name recognition.
In 2021, center Frank Ragnow and punter Jack Fox were voted in, and both remain among the best players at their positions. However, like with Jackson, both players are in non-flashy roles and they will need some help being recognized by the national audience. Fortunately for Ragnow, he is prominently featured in the voting section, holding down a very visible spot at the top of the page. Unfortunately, for Fox, the NFL has ranked punters by punts landing inside the 20-yard line, and with only seven on the year, Fox is near the bottom of the page.
Offensive tackles Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker should be in the Pro Bowl conversation as well, but like Jackson and Fox, they’re not prominently featured on the voting page. However, Sewell receives a lot of national attention on social media—deservedly so—and has name recognition after being a high draft pick, so he could find himself in the mix.
Speaking of high draft picks, Aidan Hutchinson will also surely find himself in the conversation, but with edge rushers being one of the deepest groups in the NFL, he has a big hill to climb. On the voting page, the NFL ranks the players by sacks, and Hutchinson ranks 13th in the NFL with 5.5 sacks. However, he is the highest-ranked rookie—which fans tend to love to vote for—and he has been getting some national love after making two interceptions in the last three games.
Often, Pro Bowl voting comes down to stats, and if the NFL ranked the running backs by touchdowns rather than rushing yardage, Jamaal Williams would have a legitimate shot, but alas, that is not how the voting page is aligned. Still, the Lions have really been hitting social media hard and trying to get Jamaal some attention.
I’d love to say some of the Lions’ other young talent was in the mix, but injuries and slow starts have hurt players like Amon-Ra St. Brown, D’Andre Swift, Jeff Okudah, Alim McNeill, Kerby Joseph, and Malcolm Rodriguez. The future is bright for these players, but this is probably not their year.
So in the end, the Lions likely have about seven players who could be in the Pro Bowl discussion, but five of them play roles that don’t get a ton of national recognition and the other two are fighting against deep position groups.
OK, now it’s time to vote. Answer the questions in the polls below and keep an eye out later in the week for a breakdown of the results.