Kyle Van Noy’s 2016 NFL season might be the most important season of football he’ll ever play. Your first question to that statement is probably, “Who is Kyle Van Noy?” Which is a pretty fair question. So I’ll give you a quick rundown.

Van Noy is an outside linebacker for the Detroit Lions who was picked in the second round pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. He’s made appearances in 23 games in his first two years in the league. He has 16 career tackles and one sack. And that’s pretty much it.

But this upcoming season is still going to be one of the most important seasons he’ll ever play. He is in the mix to start at strong side linebacker. He took the majority of the reps with the first team during optional team activities (OTAs) but he will face some competition from Josh Bynes and Jon Bostic. If Van Noy wins the starting spot, he’ll get his first real chance to shine in the NFL, three years into his career.

Van Noy’s rookie contract keeps him a Lion through the 2017 season. So this year is going to make a huge difference on whether or not the Lions are going to extend Van Noy before he becomes a free agent. Van Noy will be in the same position that Darius Slay was this summer, who just signed a contract extension with the team.

General Manager Bob Quinn came from the Patriots organization, where they’re known for building through the draft and hitting on draft picks in the later rounds. But most importantly, they don’t miss on second round picks. Van Noy wasn’t one of Quinn’s draft picks but Quinn is probably going to give him every opportunity to earn the spot.

Now if Van Noy succeeds in a starting role with the Lions, he could be looking at a big contract extension next year. But if he struggles and loses the starting spot during the season, or if he doesn’t win it out of training camp, the Lions might have to think about drafting another strong side linebacker. And if that happens, Van Noy’s days as a Lion might be numbered.

Van Noy is not going to want to go into free agency without showing his abilities on defense. He hasn’t been able to do that yet as a Lion. This season will be a make or break year for him in the league. If things go right, he might be looking at a contract extension next summer. If things go wrong, he might be a veteran who was drafted by the franchise’s old general manager and is battling a rookie that was drafted by the franchise’s current general manager.