The Detroit Lions appear to have a chance to make a move in the NFC North division.

The Lions have been perhaps the most underachieving team in the NFL since their last championship, which came at the conclusion of the 1957 season. Since then, it has been a long walk in the desert for one of the oldest franchises in the NFL.

The  Lions have won exactly one playoff game since that championship, and that 38-6 triumph over the Dallas Cowboys after the 1991 regular season has been cold comfort for the team's long suffering fans.

While supporters of the team have heard this before, there is reason to think the Lions can turn this around in the 2023 season. Detroit finished with a 9-8 record last year, and they went 8-2 over the final 10 games of the season.

That is no small achievement, and head coach Dan Campbell appears to have built a team that has confidence in itself and has a chance to get better in the upcoming season.

Much like their division rival Minnesota Vikings, the Lions are more accomplished on the offensive side of the ball.

They need to make a significant improvement on defense if they are going to continue to climb the ladder in the NFC.

The Lions had 2 first-round selections in the 2023 Draft, and they used one of them on inside linebacker Jack Campbell of Iowa. They also used a second-round selection on safety Brian Branch of Alabama, and both players have an excellent chance to make key contributions as rookies.

However, undrafted cornerback Starling Thomas V of UAB may be skilled enough to help this team continue to improve.

Cornerback Starling Thomas V, UAB

Thomas is tough and aggressive, and that may be able to help him overcome a lack of size. At 5-10 1/8 and 190 pounds, Thomas will likely have a difficult time contending with the NFL's bigger receivers.

Thomas is durable despite his size, he started all 13 games in 2021 for the Blazers, and he had 41 tackles, 10 passes defensed and 2 interceptions. He followed up that season by starting all 13 games again in 2022, and he had 30 tackles, 15 passes defensed and 1 tackle for loss.

Thomas missed the 2020 season as he recovered from ACL surgery. He had suffered the injury midway through the 2019 season, but he continued to play despite the injury and did not miss a game that year.

That speaks to his competitiveness, and that could help him win a position with the Lions.

His greatest asset is his speed and quickness. He can stay with nearly any receiver on short- and medium-range patterns, and if he falls behind by a step, he clearly has the ability to catch-up and make plays.

Thomas is consistently around the ball and is often in a position to deflect it away from receivers. Despite his lack of size, he is also a willing tackler who diagnoses plays and doesn't hesitate to take on bigger men.

Return skills

The other factor that may help Thomas earn a position with the Lions is his ability as a return man. He is skilled as both a punt and kickoff returner, averaging 7.6 yards on punt returns and 16.0 yards on kickoff returns.

The Lions have to be concerned about his discipline, as he was flagged for 5 pass interference calls and 1 defensive holding last season. If he can show some improvement in that area, he should have an excellent chance to earn a spot on the Lions.