By Ben Babcock
Offseason Grade: B
The Lions look good too. They made some meaningful upgrades on both sides of the ball. The NFC North is going to be one of the most competitive divisions in football. The Lions look good, they got a new head coach, but I don’t know if they’ll make it just because of how good the NFC is this year. Let’s look into it.
To start, they added LeGarrette Blount. Immediate upgrade to the crap they had at running back. Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick haven’t had solid years consistently, ever. Blount gives them a power back, and the other two can play as receiving backs out of the backfield. They lost tight end Eric Ebron and kind of replaced him with Luke Wilson and Levine Toilolo. So they took a hit losing Ebron, but Blount kind of evens it out. They need more at wide receiver going into the draft. All they have is Marvin Jones Jr. and Golden Tate.
They added a lot of depth on defense. Deshawn Shead is a very solid corner, and they brought back Tavon Wilson and Nevin Lawson. Their secondary looks a bit better, but they still need pass rushers. They added a lot of depth at linebacker, with Devon Kennard, Christian Jones, Nick Bellore, and Jonathan Freeny. But they need someone on the outside. Right now they are still just average. However, their new head coach Matt Patricia could change that. Patricia has been the defensive coordinator in New England for multiple years until now. Coaching under Bill Belichick is a plus unto itself, but Patricia has always lead a defense that was in the top 15 at least. Last season was probably the worst defense he had and they didn’t have their defensive captain all year, Donta Hightower. So, I believe that Patricia can make something of this group.
Entering the draft, the Lions have the 20th pick. I see them addressing their need for a pass rusher right off the bat. Marcus Davenport will be there and it’d be smart for them to take him. Davenport is the 2nd best defensive end in this draft, and if they pair him up with Ezekiel Ansah they could have a decent duo going. They don’t have any extra picks this year, pretty standard, in the same spot every round. They don’t have any dire needs so a lot of this draft could be depth. I see them taking another tight end to add to the receiving core. Also more depth at linebacker or on the offensive line. The Lions are really just solid all around but don’t have any stars. They aren’t in the position to draft any stars this year so they’ll need to develop some. Patricia can hopefully bring this defense to the next level, or else the Lions could fall to the bottom of the division. Offensively they look good, they just need another wide receiver. It would’ve been nice to see them pursue someone like Sammy Watkins or Allen Robinson this offseason, that really could have boosted them. But Blount is still a great addition, and Matt Stafford is still in his prime. In any other division, except maybe the NFC South, the Lions could be a wildcard team, but the NFC is very competitive this year and I don’t see them making the playoffs. Patricia needs to bring this defense to another level for them to go anywhere, the offense is solid enough. As a Pats fan, I’d love to see Patricia succeed. We’ll just have to wait and see.