In the Super Bowl era, the number one or two ranked defense has brought home a championship 24 times. Meanwhile only seven teams have hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy with a defense ranked outside of the top 10. And of those seven only three ranked outside of the top 13.
There is clearly a pattern here.
The Detroit Lions can enter the 2018 draft and very easily get a productive running back in the second round which will help address their need to improve the ground game. Much like this past year, we may even see more third round picks like Alvin Kamara and Kareem Hunt become star runners in the upcoming season.
The defense on the other hand will need more immediate attention. The question is: what position will they focus on with their first pick in the draft?
It seems like a foregone conclusion that they will fortify the defensive line, but will it be a defensive tackle or end? Will it be a hybrid edge rusher that can play in space and also put his hand in the dirt?
I think the answer will undoubtedly come in free agency.
More than likely the Lions will target a defensive end or tackle in free agency, then draft the other position in the first round. The key is to get the best available players while also being cost conscience in free agency.
The top end on the market is the Dallas Cowboys’ DeMarcus Lawrence, who is still very much in his prime, but will command a heavy salary. The Cowboys have also made it known that it is a priority for them to re-sign him. After Lawrence the market drops, but one name to keep an eye on could be former Washington Redskin Trent Murphy.
Murphy is coming off a torn ACL and MCL that caused him to miss the entire 2017 season, but he had nine sacks in 2016 and should be ready to go by the start of the 2018 season. Murphy is 27 years old and due to the injury might come at a relatively economical price, although still not cheap.