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The offseason is only a week away for Detroit Lions fans, which means a flurry of activity is forthcoming. A new General Manager will be hired, and if we’re lucky (We tend not to be) a new head coach will be shortly thereafter. Then it’s all draft and free agency, things that we don’t really look forward to but often enjoy when they’re upon us. To prepare you for the offseason, here are ten positions the Detroit Lions need to improve and a few options for addressing them.
Present Starter: Travis Swanson
With as many needs as the Detroit Lions have, finding a ‘number one’ was tough. After looking more and more into it, I think the Center position is probably the weakest on the offensive line. Yes, both tackle spots are a problem (More on those later), but Travis Swanson has really done a poor job holding down Center. Much of his early struggles were due to scheme asking him to do things he couldn’t do, but he really looks broken both as a blocker and calling the line. Manny Ramirez was okay as a reserve, but this position needs to be fixed to move forward.
Free Agency Fix
A free agency fix is possible, barring a Sheldon White return. White was part of a regime that valued the draft for their interior OL (all three starters were drafted by Detroit recently). Assuming he isn’t retained as permanent GM, free agency is more likely. It isn’t a great free agent class, even with headliner Alex Mack (Who has an opt out in Cleveland). Without knowing who the new head coach is, I would put more stock in picking up a player that could possibly play both line schemes, like the former Raider Wisniewski and present Patriot Ryan Wendell.
2016 NFL Draft Fix
Best Prospect: Max Tuerk, USC
Other Options: Jack Allen, MSU; Austin Blythe, Iowa; Mike Matthews, TAMU
I know many State fans are going to cry foul here, but having scouted each of the above players, I have Tuerk rated firmly above Allen as a pro prospect. That isn’t to say that any of these are premiere prospects, to be honest. This is another weak center draft class that lacks an elite prospect, and even the best among them is dealing with a significant knee injury. Draft is still a likely option to address this position, but I wouldn’t expect a pick until the third round (Tuerk) or later.
Next: Left Tackle