Dion Lewis to Detroit? Matt Patricia could bring more than just his defensive schemes to the Lions in 2018
Although both Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah are under contract for the 2018 season; the Lions (Matthew Stafford) could always use some more help in the backfield. The Lions are expected to retain Jim Bob Cooter as offensive coordinator but a new head coach can certainly mix things up in the running back room. Many fans expect the team to add a running back this offseason either in free agency or through the draft and with Matt Patricia being officially announced as head coach, he could definitely bring Dion Lewis with him to Detroit.
I have watched five of Lewis’ games from the 2017 season and have prepared an in-depth report to tell you just what to expect from Lewis if he becomes a Lion.
Name: Dion Lewis
DOB: 09-27-1990 (27 years old)
Drafted: 2011 – 5th round – Philadelphia Eagles
Former Team: New England Patriots
Games Played: 54
Games Started: 19
2017- Illness (Week 14)
2016- Knee (Weeks 1-9 – OUT – IR/PUP)
2015- Abdomen (Weeks 6, 7 – OUT, 8-9), Knee – torn ACL (Weeks 10-17 – OUT – IR)
2014 – N/A
2013- Missed entire season due to fractured fibula
2012- Hamstring (Week 1)
2011-Undisclosed (Week 8 – OUT)
2017 – Led team with 180 rushing attempts, 896 rushing yards, and 6 rushing TDs, 32 receptions 214 receiving yards, and 3 receiving TDs, 23 kick returns, 570 yards, and 1 return TD.
Career – 329 rushes, 1584 yards, and 10 rushing TDs, 88 receptions, 717 receiving yards, and 5 receiving TDs, 57 kick returns, 1307 return yards, and 1 return TD
Weight: 193 lbs.
40-yard dash: 4.47
10-yard split: 1.51
Arm Length: 28 1/8’’
Hand Size: 8 ¾’’
3 Cone: 6.90
Short Shuttle: 4.18
Broad Jump: 112’’
Bench Press: 17 reps
2017- vs ATL 10/22, vs MIA 11/26, @ BUF 12/03, @ PIT 12/17, vs NYJ 12/31
Best: Athletic Ability, Competitive Toughness, Vision/Create, Burst, Finish/YAC, and Pass Catching
Worst: Pass Blocking
Athletic Ability: 5/7
Mental Processing: 4/7
Competitive Toughness: 5/7
Play Speed: 4/7
Play Strength: 5/7
Finish/Yards after Contact: 4/7
Passing Game: 4/7
Ball Security: 5/7
Lewis is a seventh-year player who played all 16 games while starting eight for the New England Patriots in 2017. Under offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, he thrived in a Patriots offense that implemented mainly Gap schemes (power, iso, trap, counter) with some Zone schemes mixed in (inside zone, outside zone, toss). McDaniels’ offense also utilizes their backs heavily in the passing game which allowed him to have a lot of success as a receiver in 2017 (32 receptions, 214 yards, 3 TDs). He doesn’t have ideal size, as his height, weight, arm length, and hand size are all below average but he makes up for it with good athleticism. He’s quick and agile and has solid balance and acceleration.
Lewis has solid vision and creativity as he is patient enough to understand what his options are on zone runs and how his running lane develops on man/gap runs. He displays good mental processing to read the defensive front and alignments pre-snap and post-snap to adjust if necessary and can create when plays break down. Lewis has solid burst and accelerates to top speed when hitting the hole to separate from defenders and can impact their angles at the second and third levels. He can turn a four-yard run blocked by the offensive line into a five-seven yard run.
Despite his small stature, he is a solid finisher that maintains balance through contact, keeps his legs moving, and uses his lower body strength to stay low and fall forward through contact. He’s also a good competitor who’s physical at the point of attack and competes at a high level. And, believe it or not, he frequently wins his 1-on-1 battles in the hole and in the open field with surprisingly good play strength.
He’s a respectable contributor to the passing game due to his solid route running as he creates separation with good mental processing by reading coverages, stemming routes, and manipulating hips. Lewis is able to create separation at the top of routes by using his change of direction skills and he utilizes his strength to play physically throughout the route and at the catch point. He has solid ball-tracking skills and exhibits a good ability to secure and quickly transition up field. Lewis has good ball security as he maintains control throughout contact and through the ground.
He’s a serviceable pass blocker as he understands his assignment and plays with proper pad level. When asked to cut block as he can effectively cut the outside leg of rushers and get them to the ground/disrupt them long enough for the quarterback to throw it.
Lewis displays an adequate ability to pass block when asked to go head up with a rusher as he displays adequate competitive toughness as he will move away from contact, adequate technique in that he does not effectively use his hands and has marginal hand placement, and adequate anchor as he gets run over/pushed to the side and does not hold his ground with lower body strength, but instead he allows for the pocket to collapse/pressure to get to his quarterback.
At the end of the day, Lewis is a good starting running back you can win with in either a zone or gap scheme due to his well-rounded skill set. Below average pass blocking prevents him from being a true three-down back, but he would be best used in a balanced offense that will allow him to contribute in the passing game, either out of the backfield or split out as a wide receiver. Furthermore, his ability as a kick returner cannot go unlooked as he can be an asset to special teams as a returner and as a special team’s player.
Lewis’ contract for 2017 was only a mere $1.4 million and although he had his best year as a pro, he should not be asking for too much. He most likely will be asking for a price around Theo Riddick’s contract (around $4 million per year) or possibly more if he wants a new change of scenery. The Lions should consider bringing in Lewis to continue to add more pieces for Matthew Stafford and it would benefit their team on both the offense and special teams.