The Detroit Lions have reloaded their roster with young and promising talent. Stars like Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh are some of the best at their respected positions. The majority of Detroit's success will more than likely come with plenty of help from this core group of players.
However, the Lions have done a good job of assembling young talent around their superstars. General manager Martin Mayhew has added some depth at some important places on the Lions roster. Detroit can expect consistent play from their superstars, but they have plenty of players on the rise capable of contributing.
The Lions have quite a few young players looking for a breakout season to help propel Detroit forward. Here are three up-and-coming impact players everyone must take note of this season.
Over this offseason, Sims put on some pounds to become a better run blocker. The Lions left guard is currently weighing in at 315 pounds and should be as productive as ever.
Sims is certainly established as one of the better guards in the NFC, but with his third season underway with the Lions and playing at a different weight, it'll be interesting to see the change in production. If this hard work pays off, Sims and the Lions run game should definitely receive a boost.
Sims is a Pro Bowl-caliber guard and could earn a trip to Honolulu soon enough.
No rookie had as much of a buzz surrounding him than cornerback Bill Bentley. Starting only a as project player from Louisiana-Lafayette, Bentley has looked promising in his short stretch as the Lions starting cornerback.
Bentley has shown off what he can do during training camp as well as the preseason and regular season. He had a few nice performances, including one against the Cleveland Browns in a Week 1 exhibition that featured a circus interception and another near pick before that. Bentley showed he wasn't afraid of contact this past Sunday with a couple nice tackles on the Rams receivers.
Bentley unfortunately has been slowed down due to injuries with a current concussion and a shoulder injury sustained against the Oakland Raiders in preseason action. If Bentley can stay healthy enough this season, he'll be the difference maker this secondary needs.
In the midst of a two-game suspension from the league, running back Mikel Leshoure's impact again will delayed. After missing all of his rookie season due to injury, Leshoure has to be itching and scratching to get back on the field.
The Lions are currently using a committee of backs with Kevin Smith, Keiland Williams and Joique Bell in Leshoure's absence. However, once the physical hammer-back from Illinois returns, he should have a strong hold on the Lions feature-back position.
Leshoure gave a small glimpse of what he's capable of in the preseason, showing a multitude of moves. Catching swing passes out the backfield, making defenders miss and powering through tacklers, Leshoure seems to be the real deal. His Achilles tear seems to be behind him, and he looks crisp and smooth throughout his cuts and maneuvering.
If he stays healthy, the Lions could create another dangerous element to their offense with Leshoure.