Lions DE Hyder is not irreplaceable

No one wants to ever see a player go down with an injury, especially during preseason. In the brutal game that is the NFL, it is inevitable.

“Next man up.”

The great teams are the ones that have enough depth and the ability to overcome these unfortunate events.

After last week’s news that 2016 Detroit Lions sack leader, Kerry Hyder, ruptured his Achilles, GM Bob Quinn had to quickly implement a succession plan.

Not only did Detroit lose production, they also lost a highly revered locker room leader.

Just for some context on how loved he was by teammates, the entire defense was surrounding Hyder as he was carted off the field. Fellow DE Anthony Zettel said he felt like vomiting when he heard the devastating news. Luckily for the Lions, his veteran presence can still be somewhat utilized from the sidelines.

Hyder was the definition of a Cinderella story. As a longshot to make the roster last year, his dedication and transformation from defensive tackle caught many off guard. Even more surprising was the tear that he went on in the first four games of the season.

In saying all this, Hyder’s role on the defense was perhaps one of the few that appears relatively easy to backfill. His DT tendencies made him a natural closed end and run stopper. His non-stop motor around the edge could really be a nuisance to opposing tackles.

Even with his penchant for logging sacks, that is not the name of his game. He isn’t athletic enough to be a true threat on the outside. Many of his sacks occurred due to a scrambling QB or cleaning up when a QB was in distress. His never-give-up attitude is what separated him. A classic overachiever.

Some just have the knack for being at the right place at the right time, but that tactic does not always breed consistency.

That was made apparent after only taking down the quarterback once in the remaining eight games in 2016. Seven of his eight sacks were in the first nine games of the season–usually against weaker offensive tackles.

Again, not taking away from Hyder’s special season, it just more realistic to assume his true ability is somewhere in-between the start and end of last season.

If there was to be a Vegas line at how many sacks Hyder would have accumulated in 2017, it’s fair to set the over/under at 5.5 sacks.  That number alone should be hit solely on the volume of attempts.

So if there was another player with the same opportunity, would they be able to reproduce what Hyder brought to the table?

He racked up 51 QB pressures a season ago. Not too shabby, but of the 33 PFF graded 4-3 DEs, he ranked 14th. That could be considered pretty mediocre considering the amount of 3-4 rushers not included.

Second-year pro, Anthony Zettel, compares favorably to Hyder and in the early goings looks able to fill the void. Not only was Zettel also a college defensive tackle, his game is eerily similar to that of Hyders.

Much like Hyder, Zettel’s hot motor is what makes him an irritating force.

Hyder was a great depth and spot-duty player, but that may be his ceiling. Last year could be labeled as overachievement in my eyes. It would be very difficult for him to replicate eight sacks. I hope I am proven wrong when Hyder returns healthy in 2018.

A team can never have enough pass rushers, but the Lions are looking good in terms of capable replacements. And quite frankly, compared to a season ago, the only way to go is up.

Follow Lion Lowdown on Twitter @LionLowdown or Logan Lamorandier @LLamorandier

 

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