Will the Detroit Lions draft for defense early? Offense ignored?
Will the Detroit Lions once again look to stock their defense early in the draft? If so, are they ignoring their offensive woes from last season?
This offseason, the Detroit Lions‘ invested the most on the defensive side of the ball when it came to free agency. Big time names like defensive end Trey Flowers and cornerback Justin Coleman were signed to massive contracts. Of the free agents signed so far, excluding those who played in Detroit last season, the majority were on the defensive side of the ball.
And that makes sense as second-year head coach Matt Patricia continues to make additions that cater to his style of defense. But this is also a unit who appear to be on an upswing late last season, limiting their opponents to an average of 11 points per contest in their final four games.
Outside of tight end Jesse James, the Lions’ offense only added short-term veterans like wide receiver Danny Amendola and running back C.J. Anderson via free agency. It’s expected Detroit will use the draft to find long term impact players on that side of the ball.
However, NFL.com Analyst Elliot Harrison believes Detroit will be better served focusing on their defense early in the upcoming draft. Here’s what Harrison wrote on the league’s official website recently about the Lions’ upcoming draft plans.
"” ,,, GM Bob Quinn should strongly consider using two of his first three picks on defense. A corner has to be part of that mix, either coupled with a pass rusher or another area where the Lions are thin, linebacker. Even with the addition of Trey Flowers, there is much work to be done on the non-Stafford side of the ball.”"
Despite the signings of both Flowers and Coleman, the defense still has more holes to fill at both the cornerback and defensive end positions. And as Elliot mentions, linebacker is also a top consideration. Possibly even with their first-round selection. But is the offense being ignored?
Let’s not forget. This is an offense that dropped from scoring an average of 25.6 points per game in 2017 to just 20.3 last season, 25th lowest in the league. While their defense was tied for 16th, allowing just 22.5 to opposing offenses.
Outside of offensive guard, the Lions’ offense may not seem to have many pressing needs to address early in the draft. Still, there are positions that could certainly use more depth and talent. If the right prospect is available, they may be worth the future investment.
For instance, wide receiver could be a sneaky need early. Veteran Marvin Jones Jr. is under contract through 2020. But he is also scheduled to make a salary cap hit of $9.1 million for each of the next two seasons. If Detroit elects to move on from Jones, they currently don’t have as talented a player in place to start outside of wideout Kenny Golladay.
The Detroit Lions have a distinct lack of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. And although the draft may not be the ideal place to find instant impact players, it’s really the only tool the Motor City has left to find them.