The week after the 2017 NFL Draft was a harsh one for the Detroit Lions. Many analysts came out puzzled by their draft choices and were pessimistic about Detroit’s chances in 2017. One NFL team analyst believed the Lions had the worst draft in the league. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com thought Detroit’s draft class ranked 30th among all teams. Pete Prisco thought the Lions drafted so poorly that he dropped the team 10 spots in his post-draft power rankings.
But the tide is starting to turn. Late last week, Pro Football Focus called the Lions the most improved team in the NFC North. Now, another analyst believes they will contend for the NFC North title again this year.
Elliot Harrison of NFL.com released his post-draft power rankings late last week, and the Lions landed at 13, a one spot drop from his March rankings. Though he moved them down a ranking, he seems optimistic about Detroit in his rationale:
Let's see ... GM Bob Quinn addressed the offensive line with the dual signings of Ricky Wagner and T.J. Lang. The walking-wounded linebacker group? Welcome draft picks Jarrad Davis and Jalen Reeves-Maybin. How about that secondary, the group that allowed opposing passers a 106.5 passer rating? Signed D.J. Hayden, then spent a high pick on Teez Tabor. Not saying I am high on the Lions, but I'm high enough to ride the Loop roller coaster at Cedar Point. Well, tall enough. Anyway, Detroit will be fighting for the NFC North title again.
Harrison hits on a lot of important points: Detroit’s concerted effort to improve the offensive line, their plan to immediately upgrade their linebackers and their investments into building a deep, talented secondary.
Last year, the Lions were a win away from procuring their first NFC North title in team history and their first division title since 1993. Last year’s winner, the Green Bay Packers, came in at No. 5 in Harrison’s rankings. Harrison believes the Packers’ secondary additions in the draft will improve their roster immediately, calling cornerback Kevin King an “outstanding pick at 33rd overall.”
Harrison isn’t too high on the rest of the NFC North, though. The Vikings came in at just 22nd on his power rankings, while the Bears are all the way down at 29th. Though he admits the Vikings “might not be this low for long.”
Still, it appears the NFC North is currently a two-team race in Harrison’s eyes. If that turns out to be the case, we could be in for another Week 17 showdown for the division. For the second season in a row, the Lions will host the Packers in the regular season finale, and I’m sure plenty of Lions players would love their chance at revenge.