The Detroit Lions have not gotten it done on the field. This upcoming draft is key to fixing their bad reputation and finally becoming a winner.
The Detroit Lions certainly made some big splash moves in free agency. Particularly the signings of defensive end Trey Flowers, cornerback Justin Coleman, and tight end Jesse James came with hefty price tags.
But these players are in the prime of their career, and more importantly are meant to fit the scheme – and ultimately the new culture – of head coach Matt Patricia.
On Thursday’s ESPN First Draft podcast titled Ripple Effects, NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. discussed how the Lions have never found a way to put together a winning team. His thoughts were pretty enlightening (03-14-19):
"“The Lions seem to be one of these teams that they always do some piece, and then the other piece falls apart. They’re never together. Where the offense, defense, the line on the offensive side – everything’s really come together. They’ve been healthy. Guys that they thought were gonna be good at the same time. It’s hit or miss. It’s like they’re all over the place. And some of it is bad luck. But they haven’t had it come together for various regimes now.”"
Filling these glaring holes during free agency certainly opens up options in the draft. And, yes, I still believe: if Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray somehow fell to them at eight, the Detroit Lions should select him.
But with Flowers, it is just a replacement for defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. With James, the Lions are just making up for the inexplicable parting of ways with tight end Eric Ebron. And Coleman just might be a make-up for a bad draft pick in cornerback Teez Tabor.
Kiper Jr. mentioned bad luck but he also is quick to point out that these problems have occurred over various regimes. Luck has nothing to do with it as this problem stems from an ownership that continues to get in the way of management decade after decade. Kiper closed his remarks by simply stating what it takes to reach next step (03-14-19):
"“Can it all finally come together? Again, these moves that they made – are you a lot better as a team? No. The draft’s still gonna be key to how much improvement they show next year.”"
All free agency did was kind of kept this Lions’ roster afloat. This is still a team that can win around six games next year. This draft will truly determine if general manager Bob Quinn made the right choice in Patricia, who must make sure that each draft pick contributes to this team.
Choosing a quarterback would be crazy, but missing out on a talent like Kyler Murray could be considered insane. But Murray should be gone, maybe even at number one overall. So at pick eight, there is an opportunity to pick a defensive player that can really help this roster.
The same goes for the rest of the draft. The defense needs a specific kind of player that plays within the system. Depth and flexibility are key to making the defense great. Flowers and Coleman can be the base for this new defense, but new pieces via the draft will be necessary to make this thing work.
On Tuesday’s “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” host Colin Cowherd talked about the prospects for the NFC North. After complimenting the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, and Minnesota Vikings, Colin had this – and only this – to say about the Detroit Lions (03-19-19):
"“Matt Patricia is sort of a mess in Detroit right now. I don’t trust them.”"
It is just fifteen words, but it really cuts to the heart of the matter: the Detroit Lions can’t be trusted. Free agents aren’t going to flock to Detroit because this isn’t a winning franchise. It is all about player development, and that begins and ends with draft picks. That’s how you win, so the Lions better get it right.