Given that the Lions are now 2-9, I don't think it's too early to start thinking about next year (maybe that has been true for a while now). So what do they need to work on? What targets should Mayhew set his capable sights on? Here is my roadmap for the 2011 season (assuming there is no lockout, Lord willing). By the way, this is my first time (fanpost) so be gentle.
Here are the biggest holes and the Lions need to fill to make the jump to a playoff relevant, 60-minute team:
SS: CC Brown/Spivey are obviously not cutting it. I like Spivey, but I don't think he is ready for the starting role. There are a couple of good option in the mid rounds of the draft (6-1, 200 lbs Eugene Clifford out of Tenn State in the 4th maybe?) and a couple of options in the free agency as well. Antoine Bethea and Bernard Pollard might be available, and it looks like Atari Bigby might be getting released by the Pack
OLBs: Peterson is old, getting paid too much, and is still in my doghouse for his late hit on Thomlinson. Follett didn't exactly give me a ton of confidence before his injury. There should be a surplus of good OLB talent at the end of the 1st, start of the 2nd round in April, so hopefully Mayhew can grab a deal. I have my eyes on a 6-3 267 lb tank by the name of Jeremy Beal out of OK
CBs:If anyone had any doubts about Alphonso being the long term answer at CB, they were realized Thursday. His attempted "tackle" on Branch was a better Carlton impersonation than his TD celbration a couple of weeks ago. Prince Amukamara, who many outlets have ranked as the #1 CB in the 2011 draft, seems like a great option for the Lions first pick in the draft. I would also love to see them go after a veteran dime corner so Nate Vasher would never have to play again.
RG:This one is gonna be tough. Teams don't let quality lineman test the market very often. The best bet may be to draft a quality tackle and then switch either Gos or Backus inside. As long as our 2011 RG isn't named Peterman i don't care. Might be worth having the mammoth rookie OTJason Fox take a stab towards the end of 2010 to see what he has
3rd WR: I like what Linehan has done with Scheffler/Pettigrew in the slot, but watching Derrick Williams and Bryant Johnson play gives me the same feeling I imagine Brad Pitt had at the end of Seven when he slowly realizes his wife's head is in the box. It's a kind of sick feeling but you have to keep watching because you have to know if it's as bad as you think. I like Titus Young of Boise State (4.48 40) in a mid-round or veteran slot player like Brandon Stokely in the FA.
Regardless, I like the talent Mayhew and Schwartz are pulling together and I think if they can plug at least a few of these holes we have a decent shot at a winning season next year.