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NFL Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions’ 5 Biggest Breakout Candidates of 2014

The Detroit Lions' 5 Biggest Breakout Candidates of 2014

Detroit Lions celebrate
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

There weren’t many teams with more reasons to be hopeful than the Detroit Lions coming into the 2013 season. The team added the explosive-threat Reggie Bush and already featured the best wideout in the game in Calvin Johnson. Even the team's young quarterback was considered to be among the top-10 at his position.
However, a lack of leadership and poor coaching decisions cost the Lions the NFC North division. These five players are vital in 2014.

5. Mikel Leshoure

Mikel Leshoure hurdle
Jennifer Hilderbrand-USA TODAY Sports

5. Mikel Leshoure

Mikel Leshoure hurdle
Jennifer Hilderbrand-USA TODAY Sports

It is rare for both of a team’s top running backs to remain healthy for an entire season. The Lions’ backfield did a standup job last year of staying relatively healthy, but with Bush’s fragility it is hard to imagine that will happen again. Leshoure will see more playing time next year, and as a bruising back he should get more goal-line opportunities.

4. Kris Durham

Kris Durham juke
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

4. Kris Durham

Kris Durham juke
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The only other wide receiver to perform productively for the Lions outside of Megatron was Durham. His size makes him a vertical and red zone threat. The addition of Tate should free up Durham as Johnson will continue to see double and triple teams. He’ll steal a lot of touchdowns from Johnson in 2014 simply because of how open he’ll be.

3. Nick Fairley

Nick Fairley sack
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

3. Nick Fairley

Nick Fairley sack
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Lions got a steal when they drafted Fairley with the 13th overall pick in 2011. He is a top defensive tackle and has more upside to improve than most others at his position. As the defensive line of Detroit gains experience, look for Fairley’s numbers to improve. He should be near 10 sacks this season.

2. Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford throw
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

2. Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford throw
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

It appears that he is in this situation at the beginning of every year. His arm talent rivals that of any quarterback in the league and he has the gamer mentality. Stafford has the makeup of an elite quarterback, but his poor mechanics continue to plague his play. Caldwell is a quarterbacks coach, and he should be able to maximize Stafford’s abilities with his play-calling and direction.

1. Joseph Fauria

Joseph Lauria sitting
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

1. Joseph Fauria

Joseph Lauria sitting
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

As he takes over the tight end position full time, Fauria will produce big numbers for the Lions. He has a good blend of size and speed to round out a big and lengthy Detroit receiving corps. Fauria will be the beneficiary if the Lions increase play action under Caldwell.