The news of the Nate Burleson and Kyle Vandenbosch signing excited all Lions fans, myself included. However the excitement should not lead to lofty expectations for next season. The Lions had two simple goals for this off season. One, get Matthew Stafford some offensive weapons to help take pressure off Calvin Johnson. Two, to improve their abysmal defense. These two free agent signings will help the overall team talent, but they are not a cure-all.
Nate Burleson obviously will help the Lions talent shallow offense, but not as much as people may hope. When looking at stats they are extremely similar to Bryant Johnson. I don’t mean to say that Burleson won’t help but he is not the true offensive threat that you want on the opposite side of Johnson. Burleson does provide much needed depth for the wide receiving core. Overall Burleson will be an improvement over Bryant Johnson but don’t expect two 1,000 yard receivers.
Kyle Vandenbosch will be a great improvement over the current defensive ends on the roster, but will also provided much needed leadership to the young team. Vandenbosch did go to the pro bowl last year but I would not classify him as an elite defensive end or pass rusher. He is a very good player but is getting up in age at 31. I would hope that Vandenbosch will be able to provide solid playing time while also being a little bit of a player coach. Overall I am very happy with this signing. But once again don’t expect to much he will not have double digit sacks like 2005 and 2007.
The signing of Burleson will change how the Lions will draft this off-season. More than likely the Lions will not draft a wide receiver anymore, while offense is still a priority it is more likely they will go with a offensive lineman or running back. If the Lions do indeed take McCoy or Suh, the defensive line would move from one of the weaknesses on the team to one of the biggest strengths.