If you ask old school scouts what is required to field a championship contender, they will quickly tell you that it takes eight to twelve blue-chip players to compete for a title. This premise has been the standard for general managers around the league and I rely on it to help me identify the players to watch on game day.
With that in mind, let's identify the players to watch on the Cowboys' next opponent. Here's a quick report on the current blue-chip players for the Detroit Lions.
Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE
The high-motor pass rusher has been as good as advertised as a disruptive force off the edge. Hutchinson leads the Lions in sacks (3.0) and QB hits (6) as the designated pass rusher off the edge in a defense designed to bring pressure early and often from all angles. With the Lions building their pressure schemes around Hutchinson's talents, the No.2 overall pick is a destructive force at the point of attack.
Jeff Okudah, CB
The former first-round pick has shown promise as a "lock-down" corner this season. Okudah has successfully shadowed some of the top wideouts (SEE: Justin Jefferson, AJ Brown, and Devonta Smith) in the Lions' blitz-heavy man coverage tactics. Although the third-year pro has blossomed this season, he is still susceptible to double moves and deep shots on the perimeter.
Jeff Goff, QB
The veteran passer has regained his all-star form during his second season with the Lions. As a quick-rhythm passer with outstanding instincts and awareness, Goff picks apart the defense with pinpoint throws on "catch, rock and throw" concepts designed to get the ball out of his hands quickly. He has compiled a 109.5 passer rating on quick throws with a 69.1% completion rate and a 7:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio on such passes. Considering Goff also ranks fifth in passing touchdowns (11) despite playing only five games, the veteran passer is more than capable of torching a secondary when given time in the pocket.
DeAndre Swift, RB
The Lions' RB1 is a big play waiting to happen due to a rare combination of speed, quickness, and burst that enables him to run away from defenders in space. Swift averages 102.7 scrimmage yards per game as a dynamic runner-receiver with the potential to score from anywhere on the field. With the third-year pro leading all running backs in average yards per touch (8.8), average yards per carry (8.6), and runs of 50-yards or more (2), the Lions' starting running back deserves extra attention whenever he is on the field.
Jamal Williams, RB
The bruising running back ranks second in rushing touchdowns (6) despite playing in only five games. As a hard-nosed power back with outstanding lower body, balance and body control, Williams runs through arm tackles and punishes defenders at the end of runs. Although the veteran lacks elite breakaway speed, he runs with the kind of violence and physicality that can result in a big play late in games against a tired defense.
Amon-Ra St.Brown, WR
The ultra-competitive pass catcher is a classic "chain mover" with a combination of route running skill and sticky hands that enable him to make a tough matchup in the slot. Although St.Brown has expanded his role to include more time on the outside, the second-year pro is at his best working over the middle of the field on a variety of short and intermediate routes that take advantage of his short-area quickness and burst. With Jared Goff counting on the undersized receiver to get open in key situations, the Cowboys must be aware of his whereabouts on critical downs.
Penei Sewell, OT
It is hard to find a better edge blocker than the Lions' franchise tackle. Sewell is a rare find as a violent blocker with dancing bear athleticism and footwork. The second-year pro is an emerging All-Pro-caliber blocker who anchors an offensive line that ranks as one of the best in the business