In the beginning of this article, I mentioned the four action plans the Lions can use to build their 2016 defensive roster. Here, I’ll break down which positions fit which plan.
Promote someone to starter from within their current roster.
DE and LB are options here, along with CB. Devin Taylor showed the ability to produce in limited action last year and Kyle Van Noy might be able to step into a third linebacker spot that really only comes on the field in run situations. At corner, the nickel spot should be Diggs’ and Lawson has an outside chance to end up starting.
Re-sign a Free Agent Lion.
DE, DT, LB and S all have reasonable options for the Lions to bring back. Jason Jones or Darryl Tapp could return up front, as could Tyrunn Walker. Tahir Whitehead could be re-signed and step into the middle linebacker spot vacated by Stephen Tulloch. At safety, Isa Abdul-Quddus should be brought back for depth and special teams.
Address the position with a new face in Free Agency.
While Safety is the only position that needs to be upgraded in free agency, DT, LB and CB should all have upgrade options available too. The free agent DTs are mostly stop gaps, but there are definitely options among the older veterans. Denver’s linebackers are the only clear upgrades over re-signing Whitehead, and the Lions should have some veteran corners available to help out the team’s largely inexperienced group.
Address the position in the Draft.
Lions fans can expect DE, DT and LB to be addressed in the Draft with the defensive line being addressed earlier in the draft and linebackers some time on Day 3. Offensively, the team should be looking to address the offensive line and wide receiver in the draft as well, so quality starters may need to be found in free agency rather than the draft.
Next week I’ll take a look at the offensive side of the ball and see what options are available for Detroit there.