The Lions are the only team in the NFL that has three players that were drafted with one of the top two picks.
Fortunately none have been busts. Unfortunately, those three players (Stafford, Suh, and Johnson) will count over 51 million dollars against the NFL's salary cap. ( which was about 126 million in 2013).
With Nick Fairley about to be free agent in 2015, it is time for the Lions' to make some tough, budget-conscious decisions, like if they should use the franchise tag on TE Brandon Pettigrew, part ways or renegotiate with veteran WR Nate Burleson, and possibly cut Safety Louis Delmas.
The Lions have 15 unrestricted free agents, four restricted FAs, and four exclusive rights FAs. Expect few to return for 2014.
I have enjoyed reading Sean Yuille's roster review posts, and he did an excellent job writing about potential cap casualties here: http://www.prideofdetroit.com/2014/2/3/5357988/potential-lions-cap-casualties.
Gone is coach Schwartz and his staff. Jim Caldwell is the new coach and Teryl Austin will be the defensive coordinator. The best news for Lions fans is that Caldwell and Austin are expected to keep the 4-3 scheme in place, and already have players in place who starting to excel.
Last season, the Lions had the NFL's sixth best run defense (based on rushing yards per game) but were only 23rd in passing yards per game, ranked just 18th in sacks, and tied for 17th in interceptions.
I believe the Lion's defense is capable of much more, but may be a few pieces short. My draft may seem unorthodox, but it will supply the Lion's the #2 WR they have needed for years, while adding even more firepower to an underachieving defense.
Furthermore, it will allow the Lions to replace older, expensive players with younger, cheaper ones.
ROUND 1 Sammy Watkins/Marqise Lee: Although Mike Evans may seem like a Megatron clone, I believe Watkins (or Lee if Watkins has already been selected) bring a different skill set, and will compliment the Lion's offense better.
ROUND 2 Christian Jones, OLB FSU: A three-years at Florida State, Jones started at SLB as Sophomore, WLB as a Junior, and ILB as a Senior, when he also was frequently used as an edge rusher for the National Champions.
ROUND 3 Dion Bailey, Safety, UCLA: An undersized LB his first two seasons with the Bruins, Bailey adjusted quickly to his move to safety last season. Not only could he be a good replacement for Delmas at safety, but he could play as a nickel LB replacing Tulloch on passing downs.
ROUND 4 James Gayle DE, Virginia Tech: Gayle's production never seemed to match his athletic ability while playing for the Hokies, but expect an impressive NFL combine performance and corresponding bump in his ranking.
With Willie Young being a free agent, James Jones coming off IR (and a potential cap casualty), and Devin Taylor being a second year player with only two career starts, it would be wise to add another DE, especially if both Young and Jones depart.
ROUND 5 Gabe Ikard, Center, Oklahoma: Thought by many to be college football's top center, Ikard is not an elite NFL prospect, and will require a year or two to gain size and strength. Offer free agent Raiola (35 years old) a two year deal.
ROUND 6 Rajion Neal RB, Tennessee: Neal was not considered a draftable commodity until his Senior season, but now is firmly on the NFL radar. With Reggie Bush's injury history, Joique Bell's restricted free agent status, and Mikel Leshoure a strong cap causality, it might be wise to add competition for the third RB spot.
ROUND 7 Tom Savage QB Pittsburgh: The lightly regarded Savage transferred from Rutgers to Arizona to Pittsburgh, but at 6'5/230 he may be worth taking a flier. Remember, he is not here to replace Stafford, just Shaun Hill and Kellen Moore.