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The 2015 free agency period has been unique when compared to NFL history. There were no huge, sweeping changes in the offseason, but rather a culmination of several events that led to this year boasting some massive contract numbers. In part, this is due to the 2011 draft class coming off of their rookie contracts, but coinciding with that are several of the old CBA contracts coming off the books.
Prior to free agency, we took a look at the Detroit Lions draft needs, and we’ll take a look at them again based on how they’ve addressed their needs during free agency. Their relative inaction hasn’t changed their needs much, though it has clarified a few things.
Clear Cut Need One – Offensive Line
I had envisioned an offseason where the team addressed their most glaring need in free agency. As much as fans were crestfallen with the loss of the Lions starting defensive tackles, I was more upset that they made almost no effort to improve their offensive line. Granted, the market was insane. Rodney Hudson broke ground by robbing the Oakland Raiders at nearly 9 million per season as a center. That’s not a market you want to go anywhere near.
Still, the Detroit Lions managed to bring in 32 year old Justin Blalock from the Atlanta Falcons for a visit, though he did not sign (And as of right now remains unsigned). Beyond him? Jake Long. No, that isn’t a joke. The only other offensive lineman linked to the Detroit Lions is the former all pro, a status I mention only to point out that he fell from grace in the talent department a long time ago.
Long is a fringe starter, but more importantly for the Lions, whose OL was decimated by injury in 2014, Long has finished the last four seasons on injured reserve. And that’s it. List over. Two players, both fringe starters.
Then there’s the third guy. The team is working on bringing back veteran left guard and incumbent starter for the Detroit Lions, Rob Sims. Sims is an awful option for the team. If it wasn’t for Dominic Raiola doing his very best to go out with as few fans as possible, Rob Sims would have been clearly the Lions worst offensive lineman in 2014, even with the turnstile at right tackle. Fans like to point out that Sims played fairly well down the stretch in the second half of 2014, and that’s an accurate statement.
The other 8 games? Sims was trying to kill Matthew Stafford. Offensive line remains a need for the Lions, but with Sims returning and Waddle likely sidelined for a long time, it’s stepped its way to the number one spot for Detroit Lions draft needs.
Next: In Need of a Pick me up on Offense?