The Detroit Lions must find a number one, and they must do it quickly. Free agency would be the quickest cure, but there is little on this year’s market.
In terms of free agents, running back Le’Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers is the only true number one. If he becomes available, which is unlikely because Pittsburgh should resign him, the Detroit Lions would have to consider a big contract for Bell. He could fix their woes instantly, although drug suspensions are an ongoing problem.
With only five picks in April’s draft, the Detroit Lions must be cautious on how they spend their resources. The defense is full of holes, but filling this hole on offense could help the defense tremendously. Imagine a run attack that grinds out the clock and keeps the defense on the sidelines. That would be worth the investment.
Early in the draft, it is a pipe dream that the Detroit Lions will acquire someone like Penn State’s Saquon Barkley. Barkley looks like a sure-fire number one and top ten pick, but is way too costly for the Lions to go up and get.
Think later in the draft. A great example from last year: third round running back Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints. Kamara racked up 1300 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns in his 2017 rookie campaign. That’s a number one, and an excellent payoff for the scouting department.
The best opportunity might be in sheer quantity. It seems like the transition for rookies is always easiest at the running back position. The best option for Detroit might be rookie free agents. It could be worthwhile to focus on signing a heavy number of them.
If the position looks like this next year, playoff wins will continue to be elusive for the Lions. One win in over 50 years, that’s elusiveness on a Barry Sanders’ level.