All 32 NFL teams are going into the 2014 NFL Draft with the hope of getting better. Whether this means adding a bunch of players who will contribute as rookies or building more for the future, the whole point of the draft is for teams to make upgrades in the talent department.
For the Detroit Lions, their specific goal for each draft is to come away with three new starters, according to general manager Martin Mayhew. That's not all, though. The Lions also want to come away with three contributors and three developmental players in each draft, giving them a healthy mix of guys who are ready to see the field as rookies and guys who may be a year or two away from being able to contribute on a regular basis.
Last year, the Lions definitely accomplished their goal. They came away with immediate starters in Ziggy Ansah, Larry Warford and Sam Martin, and they got contributions from Darius Slay, Devin Taylor and Theo Riddick. (Slay and Taylor actually made some starts as well, but they weren't full-time starters as rookies.) Also, the Lions drafted three developmental guys in Corey Fuller, Michael Williams and Brandon Hepburn.
It's also important to remember that the Lions added two additional contributors as undrafted free agents in 2013. Joseph Fauria only made two starts at tight end, but he caught 7 touchdowns for the Lions, and LaAdrian Waddle became the team's starting right tackle halfway through the 2013 season.
Between the draft picks and group of UDFAs, the Lions got a lot of immediate contributions last year, and there's a lot of promise for the 2013 rookie class as a whole going forward. The key for the Lions is to replicate that kind of success on a consistent basis from year to year. If they can bring in more rookie classes like the one we saw in 2013, then perhaps this franchise will finally be able to make the jump to the next level and become a consistent playoff contender.