Defensive Playmakers, Run Game Remain Draft Priorities for Detroit.
The Detroit Lions struck gold in the opening days of free agency with the additions of Rick Wagner and T.J. Lang. Wagner should provide the consistency at right tackle that Riley Reiff lacked. And in Lang, the Lions are stealing one of the best guards in the game from a division rival. They do not seem satisfied simply cementing the right tackle and guard spots. Detroit hosted guard Tim Lelito last Wednesday in an effort to further their offensive line overhaul. A proven backup like Lelito would completely eliminate the need to select a lineman in the upcoming draft.
The Lions made a number of moves to upgrade the overall depth of their roster. Journeyman receiver Keshawn Martin joins a receiving corps still suffering from a Calvin Johnson hangover. Veteran tight end Darren Fells signed with the team to complement Eric Ebron. Defensive tackle Akeem Spence, defensive end Cornelius Washington, linebacker Paul Worrilow, and cornerback D.J. Hayden were brought in to strengthen the defense. With the draft just weeks away, though, the Lions need to focus on plugging the remaining holes in the roster.
A dependable ground game would bring some much-needed balance to the offense. Detroit has not produced a 1,000 yard rusher since Reggie Bush in 2013 (before that was Kevin Jones in 2004). A true power back can grind out tough yardage and take pressure off of Matthew Stafford. Neither Ameer Abdullah nor Theo Riddick have shown the durability and consistency needed to be an every-down back. In a draft class loaded with talented rushers, the Lions have the chance to nab their next Barry Sanders.
The release of DeAndre Levy emphasizes the need for an impact playmaker on defense, particularly at linebacker. Furthermore, the Lions could realistically upgrade at every position in their front seven. The days of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley have long past, and defensive tackle remains a huge question mark. Ziggy Ansah needs a running mate opposite of him at defensive end. Also, Darius Slay needs one at cornerback. Luckily, this draft figures to be loaded with defensive talent to right this ship.
With the presence of a physical run game and imposing defense, maybe Matthew Stafford and Co. can make a deeper run into the playoffs in 2017.