Detroit Lions seek Ford tough GM for rebuild, new direction

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /
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Jeff Okudah, Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah (Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports) /

Detroit Lions defensive roster

Looking at the rebuild needed for the Detroit Lions defense, you can almost say that you have a clean slate; some would say a nearly talent-less void, your call. The defense is historically bad and in Detroit that’s saying something. There is little to work with.

Rookie cornerback Jeff Okudah was a Top-3 pick and could be good in the right system. Former general manager Bob Quinn drafted Okudah as a press-man cornerback and asked him to not press receivers; that doesn’t make a ton of sense when you needed him to succeed quickly to justify the pick used on him.

Rookie linebacker-edge rusher Julian Okwara has talent if he can stay available in the future. He spent the majority of the year inactive or on injured reserve. Amani Oruwariye has shown promise as a second-year cornerback.

After a few young players, there are stopgap players who could be plugged in like end Trey Flowers, end-tackle Da’Shawn Hand, linebacker Jamie Collins, safety Tracy Walker, end Romeo Okwara, cornerback Desmond Trufant, and safety Duron Harmon.

Make no mistake, though, some of them will be gone in an effort to find players who can stay on the field. It takes a special blend of injured, maybe-developing, and inept to be the worst defense in the NFL, which they have been.

The linebackers in particular are among the worst blend in memory. Jahlani Tavai has been a bust thus far, Jarrad Davis has never found his place, and Christian Jones is a rotational pass-rusher at best. Only Jamie Collins is startable under better circumstances.

The defensive front isn’t in much better shape and the secondary is still a work-in-progress, albeit with a couple of young cornerbacks. It just needs a complete retool and to purge some dead roster weight.

Ending thoughts

Is that impossible? It feels impossible at times because the Detroit Lions haven’t ever figured this whole winning-football thing out since William Clay Ford bought the team in 1963. We have to give owner Sheila Ford Hamp, Bill’s daughter, points for not waiting longer to axe Bob Quinn and former head coach Matt Patricia, though.

Being the pinnacle of the football world, NFL general manager and head coach jobs are highly coveted, so that is always working in the Detroit Lions favor. We also cannot fail to mention Mrs. Hamp’s hiring of former Lions linebacker Chris Spielman, former athletic director Mark Hollis, former NFL executive Rod Graves, and running back Barry Sanders to help with the new hires.

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While Sanders, Hollis, and Graves are temporary advisers to the Lions during their hiring searches, Spielman is there to help permanently advise President Rod Wood and the franchise in all football matters. Hopefully Mrs. Hamp’s first year as owner, which couldn’t have come at a more difficult juncture, ends with two new hires that will match her bold strokes to change the direction of the franchise.