The Lions have been extremely active this offseason as expected, especially on the defensive side of the ball. As the free agent market starts to cool down, fans such as I, naturally begin to formulate what needs should be addressed during the draft. Instead of blindly picking players that could be drafted I will simply talk about what positions need to be addressed. The Lions draft strategy will be the same as last year (pick the best player available).
Quarterback: Matthew Stafford showed great promise and appears to be the future quarterback for years to come. However, he still needs a serviceable back up. Daunte Culpepper is still an unrestricted free agent and a deal may not happen. This would be a quick free agent fix; Detroit would not want a rookie quarterback. If Jake Delhomme would come at a low price he is a possibility. Charlie Batch could also make a return to Detroit because of the emergence of Dennis Dixon as a serviceable backup in Pittsburgh.
Running Back: Once again Detroit’s running game was anemic at best. The blame is not just on the running backs but also on the line. However the running backs as a whole were unimpressive especially Kevin Smith, granted he was injured, but still even when he was not injured the explosion I expected was not there.
Running back is not a high priority but most teams are running a rotation of running backs and it would be beneficial for the lions to do this as well. If Jahvid Best or Ryan Matthews is available in the second round I wouldn’t be surprised if the Lions picked one of them up. Older free agents like LT, Westbrook, and Jones are a possibility but are unlikely unless Detroit overpays.
Other thoughts: Also it would be nice if the Lions picked up a franchise fullback late in the draft. Yes, you heard right the highly important franchise fullback. In all serious I would love to see someone like Cory Schlesinger back in Detroit. There are thoughts of picking up someone like Dexter Mccluster (A pass catching scat back). To me this is a luxury (and a waste of a pick during this phase of rebuilding) especially when Aaron Brown showed potential last year as a pass catching running back.
Wide receivers: The wide receiving core is much improved with the addition of Nate Burleson. The signing added depth to the position and also provided a more legitimate number two threat next to Calvin Johnson. Derrick Williams was pretty big disappointment last, but he is still extremely athletic and with hard work and good coaching I think he could become a good slot receiver. The Lions could possibly pick a true slot receiver later in the draft, but it isn’t as pressing as some needs.
Tight End: The lions have no true need for a tight end. Brandon Pettigrew looks like a promising blocking and catching balanced tight end. If there is a good tight end available at the end of the draft they may select him but once again that is unlikely.
Offensive Line: Oh the offensive line, the topic of concern every year. In all honesty the lions protected Stafford pretty well last year. Jeff Backus the perennial fan hated tackle once again impressed the current coaching staff, and probably will stick around. I think if the Lions could pick up a good offensive guard, the whole line would become a little better. If Mike Iupati may be available in the early second round but I highly doubt it. Luckily with good scouting and a little bit of luck a solid offensive lineman can be selected in the late rounds. If the Lions pick up a lineman later in the draft he may not be ready to play his rookie year but could contribute in upcoming years.
Similar analysis on the Defensive side of the ball will come when all the details about newly acquired corner backs Jonathan Wade and Chris Houston are announced.