2013 NFL Draft Team Needs: Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions were a magical team in 2011, going 10-6 and reaching the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. But if they were magical in 2011, they were downright abysmal in 2012.
Their offense produced a near-2,000 yard wide receiver and had the ability to put up points at times, but was far too inconsistent and as backed by a defense that too often got torched. Ultimately, the Lions won just four games on the year, and gave up an unacceptable 437 points to the opposition. An eight-game losing streak to end the year arguably should have cost head coach Jim Schwartz his job, but he’s back for at least one more try to get the Lions back where they were in 2011.
I think he can do it, but Detroit needs a lot more continuity on offense, and they have major holes to address on defense. Let’s take a closer look at how the Lions can get better on both sides of the ball heading into the 2013 NFL Draft:
Offensive Needs: WR, RB, OL
Calvin Johnson, aka Megatron is out of this world awesome. But as good as he is, he clearly can’t do it all on his own. Seriously, the guy ripped off almost 2k receiving yards and his team only won four lousy games. That about says it all. Beyond him, the Lions have Ryan Broyles (torn acl), Titus Young (head case), Nate Burleson (regressing) and Kris Durham (average at best). With Young basically talking his way out of town, the Lions need to add a legit wideout talent now more than ever. It’s not going to happen in the first round, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see them pluck a guy like Justin Hunter off the board, should he fall that far. Regardless, Detroit has got to add some more weapons to an offense starving for them.
Moving right along, we come to the running back position, where Mikel Leshoure is solid but lacks any real explosiveness, and Jahvid Best might not even ever play again. It’s probably in Detroit’s best interest to have a more balanced offensive attack, too, and getting a flashier back to add to the mix might be a good way to go about doing that. I think North Carolina’s Geovani Bernard is gone in the first round, but if he drops to round two he is a realistic option. I also think Southern Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore could be worth a shot here, as he’d be an excellent value pick.
Beyond the skill positions, Detroit is about to be a mess on the offensive line. They’re already soft in the middle, but free agency could potentially ravage them even more. I like them outside at tackle, but they could even stand to import some youth behind Jeff Backus. The real issue is at center and guard, though. The good news is that there is some nice guard talent that can be found in the second round this year. As long as the Lions don’t sleep on this need, they should be able to make a solid improvement.
Defensive Needs: DE, CB, S
Detroit needs to re-sign some linebackers or draft some depth, but their main issues rest in their pass-rush and their coverage, without a doubt. The biggest concern is whether or not Detroit can keep Cliff Avril, who is still a stud pass-rusher (9.5 sacks in 2012). However, they’ll have to fork over the cash to keep him in town, and keep their pass-rush from turning into nothingness. Kyle Vanden Bosch is a solid defensive end, but he’s no longer a guy to lean on and just be a rotation guy. That could mean a stab at a pass-rushing end with Detroit’s first pick in the draft, with Damontre Moore, Bjoern Werner and Jarvis Jones all being excellent options. Logic says Moore is the likeliest to fall to Detroit at the fifth spot.
If the Lions think their pass defense needs more help (and a case can be made for that argument, then they could reach a bit and grab Dee Milliner. Milliner is arguably the most well-rounded corner in this year’s class, and is probably the only one worth drafting that high. If they do grab a defensive end instead, they could always wait until round two and snag Xavier Rhodes.
Corner is a glaring weakness, but safety is arguably just as troublesome – especially with Louis Delmas possibly leaving via free agency. Even if he stays, they still could try to upgrade the other safety spot, and T.J. McDonald or Eric Reid could be excellent options in the second round. One way or another, they have to improve this porous secondary.
Ultimately, this draft comes down to two major issues: making this offense not all about Calvin Johnson anymore, and letting the defense help itself. Making the offense more balanced with insertion of talent at running back and wide receiver is a great start, while the key to the defense is probably beefing up their pass-rush. Naturally, the more effective the Lions are at getting to the quarterback, the better their secondary will perform. It’s a lot harder to do it the other way around. If Detroit can take a shot a those positions, they’ll have a great chance at getting back into the mix of things in a very competitive NFC North.