The defense is the true heart of the Lions 0-16 season. They could score points for the most part, but it was impossible for them to step up for more than 2-3 drives a game and could not stop the opponent from scoring less than we could score ourselves.
Instead of looking at individual positions, which would be pretty much all of them, I'll look at position groups (d-line, lbs, secondary).
Going in order of depth, the D-line shows promise. With young talent like Cliff Avril and Andre Fluellen along side veterans DeWayne White and Cory Redding, the Dline is the least of our concerns, but it is still a problem. First, Chuck Darby is at best a 2nd string NT, so to replace him, we should pick up either B.J. Raji, Peria Jerry, or Ron Brace in the draft. The only prospect through free agency that I would look at is Albert Haynesworth. In the case that we somehow grab him, I would still look at Ron Brace to add solid depth in the 3rd round. Obviously it would also be nice to pick up Julius Peppers via free agency, but that looks less likely to happen every day, since he'll want to go to a team already established in the 3-4 and not in a rebuilding phase. If we are looking to transition into a 3-4, Chris Canty would be a nice pickup.
The linebacker position is where I think we have had the most struggles. Ernie Sims hasn't shown he's as high of a prospect as he should be, but that has alot to do with the supporting cast. If we draft either Rey Maualuga or James Laurinitus that will immediately turn Detroits LB corps into one of the better groups in the league. Add Brian Cushing or Clint Sintim on the other side of the field and even better. I think it wouldn't be a bad move to resign Paris Lenon, even though everyone seems to hate him. He's shown he can make tackles, so backing up the rookie MLB would be a good spot for him. This would allow Jordon Dizon to be a quality backup and special teams stand-out.
The Lions secondary can ultimately be blamed for all of the defensive problems. The lack of pressure by the front seven on the QB's is a result of too many gaps in coverage that are picked apart before anyone can reach the passer. They also got burned on middle to deep routes and did a terrible job of playing the run. The biggest question is what to do with Leigh Bodden. If we cut him, we pick up a decent amount of cap space, but were his failures his fault or a result of the outdated Tampa-2. I think we should keep him as a source of experience and then pick up free agents like Dunta Robinson, Phillip Buchanon, and Bryant McFadden to add quality and depth at CB. With that experience, we could then draft D.J. Moore and Alphonso Smith so we have quality future cbs. At safety, Gerald Alexander and Daniel Bullocks do a decent job when both are healthy, and Kalvin Pearson is a quality backup and good at stopping the run, but we still need to upgrade via free agency. A couple of options would be Oshiomogho Atogwe and Mike Brown(if he can stay healthy).
Ultimately, this would upgrade our defense as far as starters go, but the biggest issue would be depth. We still have 2-3 years until we are strong at depth, but making these moves would definitely set us up to win games and to also have depth down the road. Also, it's hard to say what players we will keep or what players we will look to add to the roster, due to the fact that we are going to have a completely different philosophy on both sides of the ball and throughout the entire organization this year, so who knows what will happen, and trades throw another unknown factor into the situation. For all we know we could trade for Troy Polamalu and Kyle Vandenbosch.
Let me know what you think.