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Team needs: Detroit Lions

Marques Colston AP

After a decade of being the worst team in the league, the Lions finally returned to the playoffs last season with a team that was largely built through the draft. Now the Lions are in the unfamiliar position of drafting late in the first round, and of knowing that if they can fill a couple of big holes, they could use this draft to put the finishing touches on a Super Bowl contender.

Cornerback: Rarely does an NFL secondary get shredded as badly as the Lions’ did in their regular-season ending loss to the Packers and their postseason loss to the Saints. And if those two games didn’t make clear that cornerback was a significant need for the Lions, the loss of Eric Wright in free agency sealed it. This is the position at which the Lions are in greatest need of a new starter.

Drafting South Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore would be the best-case scenario for the Lions, but few people think he’ll remain available deep enough into the draft for the Lions to grab him at No. 23. If Gilmore is gone, Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick may be an option for the Lions, although he’s not a great fit for what the Lions do defensively and may not be ready to step in and start in Week One. If the Lions want to take a high-risk, high-reward pick, they could go with North Alabama’s Janoris Jenkins, who’s as talented as any cornerback in this draft but whose character concerns will likely make him available late in the first round. If Detroit doesn’t upgrade the secondary in the first round, it absolutely must do so later in the draft. But what the Lions really need is a starter, and it’s unlikely they’ll get a starting cornerback on the second or third day of the draft.

Offensive tackle: Jeff Backus, the first draft pick of the Matt Millen era, will return for his 12th season with the Lions and is projected to start at left tackle, as he has every single game since the Lions drafted him. But the 34-year-old Backus had an up-and-down season last year, and in his worst games he nearly got Matthew Stafford killed. (Minnesota’s Jared Allen sacked Stafford six times.) The Lions would like to draft an offensive tackle who can be groomed as Backus’s replacement.

Ohio State’s Mike Adams is a possibility in the first round, and the fact that he tested positive for marijuana is a red flag that won’t bother the Lions. Stanford’s Jonathan Martin could be an option for the Lions as well.

Running back: The Lions spent a second-round pick on running back Mikel LeShoure last year, but it’s hard to be confident in him when he missed the entire season with a torn Achilles, then got arrested twice for marijuana possession this year. Jahvid Best opened the season as a starter but ended it on injured reserve, and there are serious concerns about his history of concussions. Kevin Smith came in and did a nice job late in the year, but the Lions seem to view him more as a stopgap than a regular starter. Add it all up and the Lions may decide they need yet another running back on the roster.

Defensive end: The Lions had a good pair of starting defensive ends in Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch, but that doesn’t mean this is not a position of need. Avril is unsigned as the team’s franchise player, and if the Lions are concerned they won’t be able to work out a long-term deal with him, a rookie defensive end could allow them to tell Avril he can sign the one-year franchise tender or sit. And Vanden Bosch will turn 34 during the season, so the Lions would like to get younger at the position. Plus, a better pass rush would help the Lions’ secondary.

Last year’s Lions team showed a lot of promise, but the pass defense ultimately disappointed. This year’s draft will determine whether the Lions can improve upon their 10-win 2011.

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23 Responses to “Team needs: Detroit Lions”
  1. noeffinway says: Apr 20, 2012 9:54 AM

    Secondary was pretty well beat up at the end of the season. Had they been healthy they would not have been “shredded”. Improvement and depth is needed, but you make it sound worse than it is.

    Backus is the best LT in the NFC North, just ask his peers. “Nearly got Stafford killed”, lol…….drama much? gimmie a break. Allens 6 sacks were not all on Backus. Why give him all the blame? I suggest you watch a few Lions games and maybe some tape. You’ll get it.

    RB’s? yeah a bit shaky there, I agree. But could be an awesome group IF they all can get and stay healthy. Do need a plan B though.

    The Lions pass rush should be much improved with Fairley now finally expected to be at or near 100%. And don’t forget about Willie Young……dudes gonna be a force this year.

    Not only did last years Lions “show a lot of promise”, they also accomplished a lot. They had a very good season. Just think what it ‘could’ be like this season IF Leshoure and Best can come back and with Fairley at 100%. Not to mention the healed up secondary. And let’s not forget Titus Young! He was just coming into his own at the end of the season after having missed mush of the beginning of the season. AND THEN we can pile the draft picks on top of that. With last years top picks missing most of the season, this season will be like adding two draft classes.

    You all should FEAR THE LIONS!

  2. thetigerreport says: Apr 20, 2012 10:02 AM

    This is a pretty accurate list for the Lions.

    One thing to note is that the Lions secondary actually played really well the first half of the season, prior to being devastated by injuries. In the second half of the year, including the playoff loss to the Saints they were not even close to being healthy on the back end.

    Delmas and Houston both played, but were clearly not the same.

    With that being said, Wright and Spivey both could be replaced. More depth at DE would help them too, as Van Den Bosch’s age is starting to show.

    Offensive line could use successors to Peterman, Backus and Raiola, as well as a healthy depth option at RB.

  3. 6ringsteelers says: Apr 20, 2012 10:06 AM

    Their most glaring need is a party bong

  4. pftcensorssuck says: Apr 20, 2012 10:07 AM

    The Lions FIRST need is to put down the blunts.

  5. matzahballz says: Apr 20, 2012 10:15 AM

    Finally, my team. Here’s what needs to be done like it or not. For starters, trading Avril to a team in the top 10-15 and use that to draft Cb Gilmore. Hold your grumblings, we should be able to get a late rd pick for avril too, there’s a reason we haven’t signed him long term and if we don’t we’ll go through this again next year and it creates $10.5mil to use on a McNeil or Benson cheap after the draft. We have plenty of DE’s that can rotate and can draft one later in the draft. Use the 23rd pick to take whoever’s left at CB (Kirpatrick or Jenkins). We still create pressure no matter who’s on our line and we now have the DB’s to compete with the Saints and Packers of the league.
    As an alternative at 23 we take an OL or DL and wait until PHI releases Samuel and sign him cheap. LB depth will need to be addressed at some point but can be done later. If we do the avril trade and get the two cb’s in rd 1 we can go OL next 2-3 picks.
    If we do the above we look better: DL-brown, suh, fairley, kvb with jackson and young rotating. DBs – houston, gilmore, jenkins, lacey & berry with Delmas on the back end.

  6. sparty0n says: Apr 20, 2012 10:18 AM

    noeffinway is right. Willie Young, former 7th rd pick is getting ready to make an impact. DE might not be as huge of a need as people are saying.

    The Lions might just be better off to spend the 1st round pick on an OT, then draft secondary with all of their remaining picks and hope some of them pan out, or arent caught with weed.

  7. matt2calvin says: Apr 20, 2012 10:27 AM

    Trade Avril. Find a way to get Gilmore. Win Super Bowl.

    My work is done…

  8. noeffinway says: Apr 20, 2012 10:49 AM

    I forgot to mention that we need a kicker too! Yep, there I said it. I’m not saying to let Hanson go. Hell, no! He’s one of the best FG kickers in the league! What I’m saying is that with the play of our kick coverage unit we need somebody, anybody, to kick the ball out of the back of the endzone on EVERY kickoff. Hanson just can’t seem to do that. I thought the new kickoff rules would help him – not. Hanson is a must-keep for FG’s without a doubt. Hold an open tryout for players on the current roster, find that one dude that can knock it out of the park every time. It ain’t gotta be pretty – just effective! And keep Hanson for FG’s only. Or use up one of the current kick coverage roster spots on another kicker. It’s obvious by the poor performance of the kick coverage team that we could afford to let one of those lame ducks go to make room.

  9. classactcalvin81 says: Apr 20, 2012 10:57 AM

    Just trade for Asante already!! Chances r all 3 of the top corners will b gone by pic 23 and I’m sure they will pass on Janoris so what else can we do!! I do know that we absolutely can NOT wait til day 2 or 3 to grab one because we were already thin and bad at cb last season and now we lost wright so IMO we really don’t have a choice we NEED a starter BAAAAAD!!!! Please pull the trigger Martin.

  10. hatesycophants says: Apr 20, 2012 11:10 AM

    As the real fans have mentioned above, I get the feeling Mayhew is planning a draft day trade into the top 10 – 15 and Avril is perfect fodder. If not, and Jenkins is available at 23, we should pick him. Make it so!

    Go Lions! Go Badgers!

  11. eastsideballa says: Apr 20, 2012 11:24 AM

    When Jared Allen conducts his Hall of Fame speech he will explicitly thank Jeff Backus. 2007-2011 Jared Allen has 25+ sacks on Jeff Backus alone, yes Jeff Backus alone, if we don’t replace him this year Allen is gona kill Stafford.

  12. irishgary says: Apr 20, 2012 12:16 PM

    Character and or class should be listed as a need.

    They have none.

  13. magnusantonius says: Apr 20, 2012 12:22 PM

    I agree with most of what people are saying. But have we all forgotten that we only have one starting saftey? And that he’s asked to do too much which has made him less durable? We need a starting saftey and an extra guy for some depth, Spivey needs to go, he was non-existant when he was on the field. I like SS Antonio Allen early and FS George Iloka later.

  14. jimmylions says: Apr 20, 2012 12:29 PM

    I think MDS summed up our needs pretty well. Mayhew has done a great job. I still get angry anytime I see Matt Millen on the NFL network – that guy should be wearing a teletubby costume.

    It sure is looking like Mayhew has something up his sleeve for draft day, and Avril is the best trade bait he’s got.

    I think we’re two-three years away from the Super Bowl, and hopefully Vanden Bosh sticks around.

    Also – since everyone but Jared Allen thinks Jeff Backus is the greatest tackle on earth, I think he could bring some major value from a team that wants to try to buy a Super Bowl this year.

  15. 20lions81 says: Apr 20, 2012 12:42 PM

    Seeing all these comments gets me so hyped for LIONS FOOTBALL. but yes trade Avril for a high pick. Our DL rotation is good. give the young players a full offseason and they will be a force. When our secondary was healthy they were awesome. more depth at LB and a OT and get Backus the heck out of there. That is obviously a young mans position.

    LIONS ARE GONNA ROAR THIS YEAR!!

  16. deltanovembertoronto says: Apr 20, 2012 1:03 PM

    I think we can trade back and pick up an extra pick and still get Jenkins. I think the veterans in the locker room can keep him in check. Did Jimmy Smith mess around in Baltimore last year? Nope. He played pretty good for them.

    I’m hoping our picks look like: CB, OL, LB, CB, OL, OL, OL :)
    We really need to protect Glassford. He’s not in the clear yet!

  17. Soulman45 says: Apr 20, 2012 2:58 PM

    THE GREAT DETROIT LIONS
    @noeffinway
    You said it all that sound like a plan good luck.

  18. detroitcityryda says: Apr 20, 2012 3:42 PM

    Lions should go for a cb in 1st and a running back or OT in 2nd .jenkins will turn out to be a better player than Gilmore,kitzpatrick and Claiborne ! Mark my words i watched and he is a beast to the full bone ,this kid was looked as top 5 pick when he joined Florida If I was the lions I would grab him and have the other older guys teach him to become more responsible off the field on the field he is pure talent .its not like he was smoking crack and robbing people kid was enjoying god’s given trees .what’s wrong with that ? but I know most of you would be having a day if they did draft him .

  19. alldonesmith says: Apr 20, 2012 3:47 PM

    Credit where credit’s due, the Lions have an extremely talented roster. Stafford and Megatron are studs, and the defensive line rotation is dominant at times. 49ers fans certainly have a healthy respect for your team’s play on the field, and there’s potential for a fairly exciting rivalry.

    From an outsider’s perspective, it looks like the Lions’ biggest needs are CB (far and away the #1) and all OL spots except RT. Even if Backus is a legitimate option at LT (which Lions fans would know better than I) he’s getting older and you’ll need someone to take over for him sooner than later. They could probably use an upgrade at linebacker too, but the guys they have there are fine for a year or two or three.

    Running back is the big question mark: can Jahvid Best stay healthy? If so, I think they’ll be set at the position with Best, LeShoure and Kevin Smith. All three backs seem to complement each other quite well. If Best keeps having concussion problems, though, a change-of-pace back in the middle rounds like Isaiah Pead could be a good pickup.

  20. dewalt2990 says: Apr 20, 2012 4:36 PM

    the “Lions needs”….comes out on april 20…coincidence?

  21. joec14 says: Apr 20, 2012 5:55 PM

    I’m betting that Jenkins and Adams would love to come to Detroit…after all they wouldnt have to look very hard to find a weed connection.

    We got enough off the field issues as it is right now….unless those guys fall to the 3rd round DO NOT TAKE THEM!!!

  22. catquick says: Apr 20, 2012 6:20 PM

    They also need to remove the steroids from the pantry shelf and replace it with Narcarrest

  23. staffordsyear says: Apr 21, 2012 1:56 AM

    To me left tackle is the most glaring need with backus getting up there in age,must keep matt stafford upright.

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