In just a few days, Bob Quinn will head the Detroit Lions for his first career NFL Draft as a general manager. In his press conference last week Quinn stressed the importance of preparation. "The board’s set, you follow the board, you follow what your plan is," Quinn said on Thursday. Although we obviously cannot know Quinn's priorities or the players he and his staff like, we have a general idea of where the Lions need to improve. With that in mind, here's a checklist of priorities Quinn should have going into Thursday's draft.
1. Add a defensive end by the fourth round
By now, everyone knows the Lions only have three defensive ends currently under contract: Ezekiel Ansah, Devin Taylor and Wallace Gilberry. Detroit absolutely needs at least one more guy to add to that rotation. The player doesn't need to be a starter (even though only Ansah has real starting experience), but whoever they draft should be able to significantly contribute in 2016. If the Lions wait any longer than the fourth round, they will be at risk of having extremely poor depth.
2. Find a backup quarterback for the future
Detroit has been fortunate that Matthew Stafford has not missed a game in five seasons, especially with the likes of Dan Orlovsky as his backup for the past two years. It is time for Detroit to find a replacement for the aging and ineffective Orlovsky. General manager Bob Quinn has stated that he believes it's a good idea to draft a quarterback often, so expect the Lions to grab one late.
3. Improve the offensive line in some capacity
Even though the unit saw improvement as the season rolled on, Detroit had one of the worst offensive lines in the league in 2015. So far the Lions have made little changes, only adding Geoff Schwartz in free agency. Schwartz's role is still unknown, but he may not even be considered a starter in 2016. Whether the Lions decide to add a top-tier offensive tackle or replace Travis Swanson at center, they'll have to make a move in the first two days of the draft if they expect any significant improvement next season.
4. Grab a tight end
Before you go freaking out about the thought of adding another controversial figure like Eric Ebron, think about it. Outside of Ebron, the Lions only have two tight ends with starting experience: Brandon Pettigrew and Tim Wright. Pettigrew is coming off a torn ACL in December and may have been cut had it not been the need for an injury settlement. Wright spent most of 2015 on the sidelines, despite the Lions swinging a trade for him just before the season began. The Lions need a tight end that can primarily block and fill in for Ebron, should he suffer an injury. Detroit doesn't need to make this an early-round priority, but they should absolutely address this by the sixth round.
5. Just find talent
The Lions did a good enough job in free agency to have a contingency plan at nearly every position should the Lions find themselves unable to upgrade a certain aspect of the roster. This affords the team the opportunity to just grab the player they see with the most talent on the board. Detroit could use an upgrade at nearly every position, but the key is they don't have to.