While all the news this offseason has revolved around the Lions overhauling their coaching staff, it’s going to be up to the new group of coaches to help Detroit’s sophomores reach the potential the group showed during 2017.
NFL.com released their grades for how each team’s rookie class performed in 2017, and among the teams in the NFC North, the Lions ranked third in the division, earning a ‘B’ and ranking behind the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears.
The grades mention each of the rookie’s accomplishments in 2017, including Jarrad Davis and Jamal Agnew earning a spot on the Pro Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie Team, and third-round selection Kenny Golladay showing “plenty of promise when healthy.”
But the rationale for the grading didn’t shy away from the question marks and room for improvement this group has to make in year two:
Detroit’s 2017 draft class is chock-full of potential. Pro Football Focus wasn’t a big fan of the first-round pick (62nd among 86 qualified LBs), highlighting his poor coverage abilities, but Davis improved over the season and tallied the fourth-most snaps on the defense. The jury’s out on his college teammate, Teez Tabor, who was more underwhelming in his limited appearances.
Also earning a shoutout in closing was undrafted free agent Tion Green, who could figure into the Lions backfield next season according to the recap.
Detroit’s needs in the draft and free agency are spread across many different positions and vary in terms of importance, but this NFL.com has a very clear idea of where the Lions most desperately need to upgrade—spoiler, it’s not a surprise:
Detroit’s issues don’t change: The Lions are still seeing anemic production from the running back position, they still prefer to play from behind, and they’re still heavily reliant on Matthew Stafford. Can new head coach Matt Patricia flip the script? ... The Lions must also draft a young running back of the future -- and offensive linemen for him -- after missing out on last year’s boffo class.