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Detroit Lions updated offensive depth chart, team needs

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A look at the progress the Lions have made on offense via free agency.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

We seemed to have finally reached a lull in free agency, as the Detroit Lions made a flurry of moves that have seen some drastic changes to this team. Two starters on the offensive line are gone. The Lions cut a team captain on defense and traded away a player in the midst of a three-year Pro Bowl streak. Meanwhile, they’ve added five players on $10+ million deals, traded for a coverage fiend and locked down their nose tackle for the next few years.

This team already looks quite different, but the transformation is far from complete. So let’s take a look at where the Lions’ roster stands a few days into free agency and where their roster still needs the biggest improvements.

Let’s start, today, with the offense.

Quarterback

  1. Matthew Stafford
  2. Chase Daniel
  3. David Blough

The Lions are pretty much set at quarterback after investing three-years and $13.05 million to Chase Daniel as the backup. Though the way his contract is structured, it’s really more of a two-year, $7.3 million deal.

Theoretically, the Lions could still be preparing to move on from Stafford in 2021—when his contract is finally escapable—but the Lions have made it pretty clear they like the guy a lot. It’s much more likely the Lions dip into Day 2 or 3 of the draft to find a potential long-term backup.

Running back

  1. Kerryon Johnson
  2. Bo Scarbrough
  3. Ty Johnson
  4. Wes Hills
  5. Tra Carson

Fullback

  1. Nick Bawden
  2. Isaac Nauta (TE)

While the Lions are likely set at fullback, running back is one of the few positions of need the Lions have not touched yet in free agent. They’ve already let J.D. McKissic go, and haven’t found anyone to replace him.

The running back market has been notoriously slow, and there is plenty of good talent still out there, including recently-released Todd Gurley (he is signing with the Falcons). If tradition holds, the Lions are likely to add a bulky back still in free agency, and could even double dip by taking a running back as early as Day 2 of the draft.

Wide receiver

  1. Kenny Golladay
  2. Marvin Jones Jr.
  3. Danny Amendola
  4. Marvin Hall
  5. Chris Lacy
  6. Travis Fulgham
  7. Jonathan Duhart
  8. Tom Kennedy
  9. Victor Bolden

The Lions are likely set here when it comes to free agency, but considering literally none of these nine receivers have a contract beyond 2020, a draft pick is certainly in play at this position. This class is extremely talented this year, so the Lions would be wise to find a young player to be a part of this team’s future at wide receiver.

Tight end

  1. T.J. Hockenson
  2. Jesse James
  3. Isaac Nauta
  4. Matt Sokol
  5. Paul Butler

The Lions added a couple of tight ends on futures deals, but they could certainly use another talented player after losing Logan Thomas to free agency. I would expect them to sign someone to compete for the TE3 spot, but the talent pool isn’t all that great in free agency—and no, Eric Ebron is not an option.

Offensive tackle

  1. Taylor Decker
  2. Halapoulivaati Vaitai
  3. Tyrell Crosby
  4. Dan Skipper
  5. Matt Nelson

The Lions have their three top offensive tackles for the 2020 season, and it seems like an extension for Taylor Decker could happen this year. If that’s the case, there’s no strong need for an offensive tackle in the immediate nor in the future. Vaitai’s five-year deal is really more like a three-year deal, so if that doesn’t workout, the Lions could be in the market a couple years down the line.

As for now, they likely want to add a little bit of competition for depth beyond Crosby.

Guard/Center

  1. Frank Ragnow (C)
  2. Joe Dahl (LG)
  3. Josh Garnett (RG)
  4. Beau Benzschawel
  5. Caleb Benenoch
  6. Casey Tucker
  7. Russell Bodine

This is, undoubtedly, where the Lions need the most work on offense. I believe this team likes Joe Dahl as their starting left guard, but there is no current or obvious solution for filling Graham Glasgow’s shoes at right guard. The Lions did sign former first-round pick Josh Garnett earlier this offseason, but they can’t feel comfortable with him as their permanent starter considering the former 49er has started just 11 games in his injury-riddled career.

The Lions are reportedly in the mix for some free agent guards, including Greg Van Roten, and don’t be surprised to see them in the mix for former Vikings guard Josh Kline, who was released earlier this week. A draft pick is very much in play here, too.

Biggest needs on offense

  1. Guard
  2. Wide receiver
  3. Tight end
  4. Running back
  5. Guard

Right guard is the only starting spot really open right now, so that sits atop the team’s needs. Detroit could also afford to either upgrade Joe Dahl’s spot or get adequate depth, so guard also rounds out the top five needs.

Detroit could go into 2020 with the skill position players they have, but they also need to start planning for the future at wide receiver and get some more reliable depth at the tight end and running back positions.