Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lions' Offseason Progress Report

Earlier this off-season I complied lists of the Lions biggest needs on defense and biggest needs on offense. Let's take a look at how they've addressed those needs so far:


Offense:

Receiver: Incomplete
The Lions' top three receiver spots are locked down, but Davis and Stovall are free agents. Ted Ginn made a visit to Allen Park, but left without a contract and isn't likely to take a 4th receiver spot on a roster. The Lions need some depth and special teams guys at this position.

Tackle: Incomplete
The Lions re-signed Backus and Hilliard, but they need to address left tackle immediately.

Center: Incomplete
Raiola still has two years left in his contract so this isn't exactly an immediate need, but they need to address this position soon.

Fullback: Complete
The Lions' front office listened to my advice about Will Heller and released him. They then signed mystery man James Bryant who is listed as a fullback. He's probably just a camp body, but at least the Lions have a fullback on the roster.

Halfback: Complete
Injuries are a huge concern here, but with LeShoure, Best, KSmith (assuming he re-signs) and Bell the Lions could have a beast of a backfield. A steady rotation will hopefully keep the injury bug away a quell the Lions third-and-short woes.

Defense:

Safety: Complete
The re-signing of Erik Coleman marks the Lions' third annual veteran-to-back-up-Spievey event. I imagine Spievey will be on a short leash, but maybe having a full off-season in his position will get him on track. Delmas has to stay on the field and Spievey has to be consistent this season to secure their spots on the team in the future as they are unrestricted and restricted free agents in 2013, respectively. The Lions are also bringing in OJ Atogwe who I doubt would beat out Coleman for a back-up position.

Cornerback: Incomplete
The Lions made progress on the cornerback position when they signed former Colt starter Jacob Lacey to a one-year contract. I imagine if the Lions had to field a team today that Houston and Berry would start with Lacey playing the slot but we'll see how things shake out in camp. Keep an eye on the Jags as they have considerable cornerback depth. There will also be plenty of options in the first three rounds of the draft.

Defensive End: Incomplete
The Lions locked up Avril for another year which should pay big dividends again. On the other side, either Lawrence Jackson show he's ready for full-time duty or the Lions need to pick up another end to take KVB's spot after this season.

Linebacker: Complete
Levy, Tulloch and Durant will be back for the 2012 season. Levy will have to prove that he is a long-term solution at weakside backer this season or the Lions will let him walk. Levy would make for a decent trade chip right now, but I suspect the Lions will value continuity over possibility. The Lions would be wise to lock Durant up for a few more years, though they may not have the cap to make that move right away.

Defensive Tackle: Complete
The Lions didn't release Williams in their darkest hour and re-signed Fluellen bringing back the same personnel as the 2011 season. It will be interesting to see if Hill or Fairley push Williams for his spot in camp and if so how the Lions react to that situation.

Summary:


  • The Lions' biggest need at this point is someone to take over for Jeff Backus ASAP. 
  • Next up they need center prospect to take over for Raiola, a defensive end to replace KVB and a starting caliber cornerback. 
  • A receiver who can also return kicks and a big-bodied red zone receiver would fill out the Lions' receiver corps nicely.
  • Finally, depth all around. Keep churning the bottom of the roster and looking for potential starters.    

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