Let’s not kid ourselves here, the Detroit Lions need a lot of changes in 2020. When you’re picking in the top three, just finished with a bottom two defense and are coming off back-to-back losing seasons, something needs to be fixed.
The Lions were certainly on the bad side of injury luck in 2019, but that only revealed just how thin this roster is at certain positions. General manager Bob Quinn has a lot of work to do this offseason, and it starts with making this roster better and deeper.
Here are the Detroit Lions’ top six positional needs going into the 2020 offseason, in order of priority.
All eyes will be on what the Detroit Lions do with Darius Slay this offseason. He didn’t get the new deal he wanted last year, and his play took a noticeable step down in 2019. With Slay now 29 years old, it seems unlikely the Lions will hand him a long-term deal, so even if Detroit sticks with him in 2020, there both needs to be someone that can play alongside him in the immediate and be his successor going forward.
It’s clear the Lions value coverage over pass rush, so expect this to be high on the team’s needs list, especially with Rashaan Melvin’s contract expiring. Cornerback is very much in play for Detroit’s third overall pick or as a free agent priority.
Graham Glasgow, Oday Aboushi and Kenny Wiggins are all set to become free agents this March, meaning Detroit doesn’t only need to find themselves a starting right guard, but they need to solidify their depth, too. Most fans would be fine with Detroit simply re-signing all three, but all signs point to Glasgow testing free agency. That leaves, at the very least, a starting job needing to be filled.
I’m of the belief that when the word “retirement” even comes up, you’re already halfway out the door. So while the Lions currently have Damon Harrison Sr. under contract for two more years, it seems highly unlikely he’ll live out the end of that contract now that he’s reconsidering his future in football. With retirement a possibility this season, Detroit needs to find themselves a Snacks replacement ASAP. That problem is only further complicated by the impending free agency of Detroit’s other run-stuffing defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson.
For Matt Patricia’s scheme, a run-stuffing nose tackle is absolutely essential. So expect them to make this a priority, especially if Harrison decides to retire in the next month or two.
3-tech defensive tackle
While fans will calmor for an edge defender this offseason, it was often Detroit’s failure to push the pocket from the middle that caused opposing quarterbacks to have so much time on their hands. The injuries to Da’Shawn Hand and Mike Daniels crippled this unit last year, so the Lions need to find themselves some young, reliable players. They could certainly bring Daniels back next year—and he’d love to stay—but that’s a risk for a 30-year-old defensive tackle.
Both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. enter 2020 on the final year of their deals. It seems Golladay is likely to cash in big after leading the league in touchdowns in 2019, which may mean Detroit will be looking for a cheaper No. 2 option than giving Jones an extension, too. I would not be surprised to see Detroit snag a wide receiver on Day 1 or Day 2 of the draft this year.
Additionally, the Lions will need someone to play the slot. Obviously, Detroit could just kick the can down the road with that decision by re-signing Danny Amendola, but eventually they need to think more long term at the position.
That all being said, the Lions could certainly use a dynamic pass rusher that can consistently get to the quarterback. While the Lions would certainly prefer a more disciplined edge player who will contain and hold the edges, they absolutely need someone who has an arsenal of pass-rushing moves, too.
Devon Kennard has proven to be a solid run defender, but offers little value as a pass rusher. Romeo Okwara is the same on the other side of the line. Whether it’s another jack linebacker or a guy who will put his hand in the dirt, the Lions need someone to pass rush. That much is clear.