How the Detroit Lions could rebuild their passing game this offseason
By Robert Jones
Plain and simple if there are no takers the Lions do what Matt Patricia would probably prefer to do and select LSU middle linebacker Devin White. This would allow the Lions to use Jarrad Davis on the outside in 4-3 sets and co-man the middle with White in 3-4 sets.
The biggest key here is that the front seven gets strengthened and Darby would help solidify the secondary while there is a good chance one of the top three tight ends could still be available when the Lions are on the clock in the second round.
But if the Lions are able to trade down, this puts them in a position to select the tight end of their choice later in the first round and get value out of the pick. Any one of the top three tight end prospects would look good in Honolulu Blue. T.J. Hockenson, Irv Smith or Noah Fant are all worthy of a mid-first round pick and would give the Lions a player who should contribute immediately at a position of need.
This would then leave the Lions looking for help at receiver. One that I truly believe will be filled in both free agency and the draft. After all, injuries happen. Just look at what the Lions went through after they traded Golden Tate and then Marvin Jones was injured.
In free agency I expect the Lions to be somewhat aggressive in trying to reel in a receiver. The two who fit the bill very well and shouldn’t break the bank either are former Buccaneer slot man, Adam Humphries or former Cowboys receiver Cole Beasley.
Either one would bring a reliable pair of hands to the slot and would create opportunities for himself surrounded by Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones or at least open things up for the young tight end selected by the Lions in the draft.
Then simply because the NFL is still a full-contact sport, despite the rules changes for safety, Bob Quinn may wish to find a young receiver they can groom and give them depth. Like Andy Isabella from UMass.
The little receiver at 5’10” and 190 pounds has made a name for himself with a very good senior season and an impressive week at the Senior Bowl where he proved he belonged. With reliable hands, good quickness and a solid understanding of how to play the position, he would give the Lions good depth that could contribute while learning the ropes.
Another possibility in the draft would be speedster Marquise Brown of Oklahoma. Because of the Lisfranc surgery he underwent, he could possibly slide a little in the draft. It is expected that he will be ready for O.T.A’s, but you never know how it will affect his status.
Beyond that, there are others like Deebo Samuel from South Carolina, Georgia’s Riley Ridley, David Sills of West Virginia or even Kelvin Harmon of N.C State to name a few that could all be available in the second round or after offering a variety of sizes and potential for Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia to choose from.
The point is this; there are several scenarios that the Lions could follow to help shore up the needs on their roster. How they handle the balancing act of acquiring much needed defensive help and some reliable hands for Stafford to throw to will ultimately be handled their way, but smart moves in free agency that open up opportunities in the draft is usually a winning strategy.
So while the Lions needs are numerous, we should all expect them to leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of some reliable helping hands for the passing game.