It’s clear the Detroit Lions’ goal in free agency was to address as many needs as possible, while also picking up some impact players. Entering free agency Detroit needed a cornerback, guard, defensive end, tight end, and running back. They went out and got players capable of starting at every single one of those positions.
So where do the Lions stand now? That’s the question we posed to our FanPulse audience last week. What is the Detroit Lions’ biggest need headed into the 2019 NFL Draft? It’s clear most of you have it down to two primary needs:
Let’s dig a little deeper into these needs.
It’s no surprise that Lions fans listed guard as one of the tops needs in the draft. T.J. Lang’s release and retirement leaves a gaping hole on the roster. We saw what Kenny Wiggins was—and more importantly wasn’t—capable of in replacement.
Detroit did add Oday Aboushi in free agency, and there’s a good chance the Lions’ coaching staff is higher on him than fans are. He has familiarity with new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, having started eight games with the Seahawks in 2017.
That being said, it’s clear they also know their limitations with Aboushi. He was given just a one-year $1.25 million contract, meaning that guard is still a long-term need, even if Aboushi works out in 2019.
The Lions have sought a capable player to sit opposite Darius Slay for some time, and this year they finally moved on from Nevin Lawson. Though they went out and signed Justin Coleman, it’s clear they view him as a nickel corner.
Much like the Aboushi signing, the Lions also added Rashaan Melvin on a cheap, one-year deal. There’s some hope his promising 2017 PFF marks make him a viable option to start in 2019, but his Raiders film from last year is deeply concerning. Maybe with a better supporting cast (see: pass rush), he can return to form, but, again, the Lions are hedging their bets with a short-term deal.
Though not many fans consider it a top need, Detroit could very well find themselves in a market for a receiver early in this draft. Danny Amendola is a nice slot receiver bandage for 2019, but unless the Lions are tying their wagon to hopes that Brandon Powell burgeons into an NFL starter.
Additionally, outside receiver is still potentially an option for this team. Marvin Jones Jr. has been speculated as potential trade bait, seeing as he’s pushing 30 years old and only has two years remaining on his contract. Jones has been solid, but not spectacular in his three years in Detroit, and the Lions could certainly use another outside playmaker.
Nearly a third of Lions fans felt a position not listed is the team’s biggest need. While I can’t exactly pull which positions they feel are biggest, here are a few candidates that round out Detroit’s top needs.
Tight end - The Lions added Jesse James in free agency, who is definitely capable of starting. However, Detroit’s depth behind James is virtually nonexistent.
EDGE - With Trey Flowers added and Romeo Okwara re-signed, it’s hard to call edge the team’s top need. But with Devon Kennard’s mediocre 2018 season and with the NFL’s insatiable desire for more pass rushers, the team would certainly benefit from another defensive playmaker on the edge.
Off-ball linebacker - Jarrad Davis has struggled in his two years, but his spot is still likely safe for another year or two. Every other linebacker, however, could be gone by the end of 2019. Christian Jones is signed on for just one more year. Jalen Reeves-Maybin has two more years on his rookie deal, but he has yet to make an impact. The rest of the Lions’ linebacking corps is simply depth or special teams fodder.