Detroit Lions: Most glaring need is now on offense, not defense

Joe Dahl, Detroit Lions (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Joe Dahl, Detroit Lions (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

While there is still room for improvement for the defense, the Detroit Lions’ new most glaring need is now on the offensive side of the ball.

The Detroit Lions have made numerous efforts to fill the voids on the defensive side of the ball this free agency. They have signed linebackers Jamie Collins and Reggie Ragland, they’ve inked cornerback Desmond Trufant to a multi-year deal, and they managed to swing a trade for safety Duron Harmon for a swap of day three picks with the New England Patriots.

Now, there are still places on defense that need to be improved. The Lions should not hesitate to spend their top-five pick on either Ohio State star Chase Young or his teammate Jeffrey Okudah. Both players play premium positions and are the clear-cut best players at their respective positions, edge rusher and cornerback.

Despite those two obvious needs, each of those positions already offers a bonafide star in the room. The Detroit Lions just last year secured the services of stand-out defensive end Trey Flowers and, as previously mentioned, have former Pro-Bowler Desmond Trufant leading the cornerback room with top nickel corner Justin Coleman and promising youngster Amani Oruwariye backing him up.

However, there is a position on the offensive side of the ball that is probably the worst position group on the team and in need of at least one, if not two, dire upgrades. The Detroit Lions have zero starting-caliber offensive guards on their roster. Zero.

The Lions should absolutely be looking to add a guard as early as round two, maybe even round one depending on any trades they make. They may perhaps even consider doubling up on the position again later in the draft around round five or six.

Currently on the roster that could conceivably fight for a starting guard spot are Joe Dahl, Oday Aboushi, and Joshua Garnett. Yes, I just threw up in my mouth too. The only one here that inspires any sort of confidence is Dahl, but even he has yet to handle a full-time gig at the NFL level yet.

Dahl looked promising last year as the 1A in a two-man rotation that featured him and Kenny Wiggins. Why the Lions insisted on rotating the two of them I’ll never understand. Dahl was far and away the better guard and every time Wiggins was in over him, the offense took a noticeable hit in production.

Dahl was graded out at a 64.9 by Pro Football Focus, who grades every player every game, which was a slight downgrade from his 70+ grade the past two seasons, but it shows you he can play as an average starter with the ability to play at an above-average level on occasion. Dahl would be a fine second guard for the Lions, but right now he is OG1 and that’s not how you want your guard depth chart stacking up.

The other two guards currently sitting at OG2 and OG3 are Oday Aboushi and Joshua Garnett. Garnett has missed two full seasons due to injury over the last three years and even when he did play it wasn’t all that impressive. Aboushi rotated in occasionally for the Lions last year, even making a couple of starts, but played at a low level posting a 57.7 overall grade from PFF.

There aren’t very many free agents left on the market that would get you excited either. Maybe they could bring in veterans like Ronald Leary, Josh Kline, or Mike Iupati, but none of them have played at a level higher than league average over the past few years. Still, they might be able to provide a higher level of play than Garnett and/or Aboushi so it might be worth it to bring one or two of them in if the Lions feel they have the money.

Right now, the best and most sensible solution to this problem is to draft a guard early, perhaps even in round two. Numerous guards are worthy of an early round two to early round three selection.

If he’s still there at 35 overall when the Lions pick, it would make a lot of sense for Detroit to pull the trigger on LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry. He is a fringe first-round prospect and has positional versatility on the inside. He is the kind of guard the Lions like and would fit well in the offense.

They could choose to wait until round three to select a guard and if they do, a player to watch is Louisiana’s Robert Hunt. He is the type of lineman the Lions seem to be looking for now in that he brings a lot of power with him and bulldozes defenders off the line.

Another one to keep an eye on for the third round, should he slip there, is Ohio State’s Jonah Jackson. He’s not the best run blocker but his pass sets are great and he is one of the best interior pass protectors in the 2020 NFL Draft. If Detroit wants to prioritize quarterback Matthew Stafford‘s interior protection, he makes a lot of sense.

Some later round guys that you might see the Lions take a shot on (maybe doubling up) are Clemson’s John Simpson (who is said to have played well at the Senior Bowl) and Louisiana’s Kevin Dotson, whose name is picking up steam thanks to his impressive grit and tenacity on the lines.

dark. Next. 2020 NFL Draft: Post-Combine Detroit Lions mock draft

Are there any other offensive guards you’d like to see the Detroit Lions add to the roster? It could be a free agent that is being over-looked, or perhaps a 2020 NFL Draft prospect you like a lot. Please feel free to comment on who you’d like to see in Honolulu Blue come next fall.