5 free agents Detroit Lions should hone in on as start of league year approaches

As the new league year gets set to officially start, these five free agents should be firmly on the Detroit Lions' radar.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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4. DT Sheldon Rankins

The Lions clearly do (and should) have an addition at defensive tackle on their radar (more on that to come). Rankins is coming off a strong season with the Houston Texans, where he had six sacks and finished seventh among interior defensive lineman in pass rush win rate.

After Day 1 of free agency, Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus had Rankins to the Lions on his list of "moves that make sense over the coming days."

"Rankins plays with good leverage, engaging in blocks with a low center of gravity and often driving his blocker back several steps into the lap of the quarterback. He also has a suddenness to his game as a pass-rusher, quickly getting on the toes of opposing guards and deploying his inside spin move or flashing across the line on stunts. When blockers are able to latch onto him, he struggles to disengage, getting driven past the quarterback or limiting his ability to complete the play, but he continues driving his legs through contact nonetheless and doesn't stop until the whistle."

"He fits what head coach Dan Campbell and the Lions value in a defensive lineman like a glove."

Rankins was a first-round pick by the New Orleans Saints in 2016, which gives him history with Dan Campbell and Lions' defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn over the first five seasons of his career. That may be a differentiator for both sides.

Update: According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, Rankins has a deal in his place with the Cincinnati Bengals.

3. OG/ C Connor Williams

Williams really blossomed playing center for the Miami Dolphins the last couple seasons (No. 2 center by Pro Football Focus grade last season). But before that, he was the starting left guard for the Dallas Cowboys for four seasons, and he would be a fit there for the Lions.

The caveat with Williams, which has surely impacted his market so far, is a torn ACL he suffered in Week 14 last season. Where he is in that recovery process is not clear, but the start of training camp would be about seven and half months out from the injury and Week 1 of the season would be almost exactly nine months out from it.

if not for that injury progress concern, Williams would be higher on this list.