Considering how Holmes continues to hit in the draft, we are all looking forward to this one. But let me temper your expectations just a little.
For starters, this will be the first time he won't have a top 7 pick to play with and the haul from the Stafford trade is over. Last year Holmes parlayed his picks into a fierce four-man haul, but those 4 picks were all in the top 48 picks, this year their 2nd pick isn't until #61.
On top of that, there are fewer and fewer opportunities for a rookie to get playing time, not a lot of playing time available and I hope even less after Free Agency.
It's not going to be the same expectations as in the past, the Lions have to hope for one good starter out of the 29th pick and then some players that may play a role and develop with picks 61, 73 and 92. That's okay, that's what happens with good teams.
If you have been following along, thank you, and you know we have filled much of our needs already, with one glaring exception, the IOL. This was done for a reason, make that a couple of reasons.
Let's start with the need and the IOL might be the biggest need of them all. Like Holmes said in his season ending Press Conference, the OL is this team. With Glasgow's age, Jackson not being brought back for various reasons (see Turn the Page, Who Stays, Who Goes for more clarification) and Ragnow giving retirement hints, there is no doubt they need something. All things considered, by 2025 there might be an entire change over at the 3 positions and add in that Decker is no spring chicken and fighting injuries himself, who know when he might decide to walk away while he can still walk. The day when the only one left is Sewell could be closer than we want and can't let that happen, the Lions need to add someone and not just someone, but a stud player for the long haul.
Holmes said there is only one Ragnow on the planet, but the Lions have to try to find the next one.
So the need is huge, but why wait for the draft?
Because IOL is one of the few positions you can get a premium player at #29 and fortunately there are two extremely good Center prospects in this draft. If you followed the Senior Bowl practices you are familiar with Jackson Powell-Johnson. He spent two days destroying all comers and took day three off because, why not. Powerful and large. over 330, yet with the movement skills of players 100 pounds lighter, he seems to be everything the Lions look for as a player. he oozes GRIT and would step in at LG until he is needed at Center.
I will be thrilled if that's who they draft. Unless they can draft Conner Barton from Duke.
He played LT for the last 3 years after starting at Center as a Freshman and while he can play OT in the pros, it on the interior where he is expected to not only a Pro bowl player, but an All-Pro type. If you watch the tape of this guy, it's easy to see why and see why the Lions will love him, his ability to get out in space and take people out is Sewell like. When you listen to his interviews it makes sense that Rick Speilman called Conner Barton a Lions type player.
Give me either player and I am more than good, in fact, trade up if you have to, this position is far too important to skimp in any way. If it takes one of the 3rd round picks, do it.
So where do they go after that, picks 61, 73 and 92 are tough to predict, especially now, before the combine even.
But as a general observation, use those picks for a DL and DB prospects to develop. Not against trading up with these picks either. For example, if they don't have to trade up in the 1st round, they could package the 2 3rd round picks for a mid-range 2nd round pick. Lions are in a quality over quantity mode now.
Day three picks, who am I to suggest anything to Holmes, just keep picking players you like and hand them to this coaching staff. That's been a winning combination so far, no reason to think it won't in the future.
We have reached the end, the page is turned. So, let's take a quick spin around the team.
Start with the easy one, the offense. The only thing we really had to do was shore up that OL interior for this year and we hope years to come and we did that with bringing back Glasgow and drafting our future Center in the 1st round.
The only other concern on the offense is the 3rd and 4th WR with reynolds and DPJ free agents. Either or both could be back if the money is right, pr they can find someone else in Free Agency,
Now the heavy lifting, the defense.
In the secondary we let Ceedy go and maybe Walker. We will be looking for a veteran depth Safety, but that's usually an easy fix. It's CB that needs the help and boy, did we do something by bringing in the Free Agent Sneed. This is a true shutdown CB that raises the entire secondary, plus we added a day two pick to the depth mix.
On the DL we added a veteran DE in Autry that had 11 sacks last year plus a solid NT, no more taking a guy off the couch and starting him in the playoffs. Plus we are on the lookout for one of those steals at DE that happens for good teams every year, it's time to cash in on being a good team with a great locker room.
On top of that, we added a day two pick to develop.
In my opinion, we have greatly improved the roster and we didn't sell the future to do it as we added at least two players at key positions, CB and Center that should be a big part of the future.
This is the time to make moves, that's what Free Agency is for, adding a piece or two to get over the hump. Time to act like you mean it Holmes, lets write a new chapter we will always remember.
For those that want to catch up on the 4 part series, these are the links
Turning the Page, The Draft.