NFL Draft 2012: Detroit Lions' Biggest Needs
Finally, the Detroit Lions have made draft picks that have contributed to the team and turned them into winners.
Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh and Louis Delmas are all young players who led the Lions to the playoffs for the first time since 1999 and have built a strong foundation in the Motor City.
While the Lions' future looks bright, there are still depth issues across the roster. The 2012 draft is almost uncharted territory for the team’s management as they look to build upon what they accomplished last season.
The Lions have done a nice job revamping their secondary in recent years by adding Chris Houston, Eric Wright, Alphonso Smith and Aaron Berry. They finished this season with the fifth-best interception total in the league, with 21.
If the Lions hope to overthrow the Packers atop the NFC North, they need to add depth to the cornerback position.
Teams like Green Bay use their offensive weapons to spread the defense across the field. Detroit has to be able to match up with Jermichael Finley, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson, and doing so will require a deep group of cover corners.
If he is still available when the Lions pick, Dre Kirkpatrick out of University of Alabama might be an option for Detroit.
After suffering multiple concussions, it is unclear if Jahvid Best will ever play football again. The Lions will welcome Mikel Leshoure back for his first season on the field in Detroit, assuming he can stay healthy and has returned to form after tearing his Achilles tendon last training camp.
Kevin Smith was a solid contributor when he rejoined the team, but struggled to ward off injuries. Maurice Morris proved that he cannot be counted on as a starter.
With their top three running backs questionable due to injuries, general manager Martin Mayhew will be hard pressed to once again address the Lions' backfield situation.
LaMichael James from the University of Oregon could provide a spark to the backfield in Detroit if he is available in the middle rounds.
Detroit’s offensive line played better than was anticipated coming into this season. Matthew Stafford was protected well, as his linemen finished in the top half of the league in sacks allowed and quarterback hits.
One of the biggest questions facing team management is how much longer can Jeff Backus and Dominic Raiola compete at the highest level.
Both have enjoyed strong 11-year careers, but Backus is 34 years old and Raiola just turned 33. Finding replacements are not immediate concerns, but if an offensive lineman worthy of their first round selection is available, do not be surprised to see Mayhew pull the trigger.
One name being thrown out there is Cordy Glenn, an offensive guard from the University of Georgia.
Linebacker is not necessarily the most glaring need in Detroit, but the Lions gave up big runs all season long.
Stephen Tulloch was solid in his first season in the Motor City, and as a free agent this offseason, the Lions would be wise to re-sign him. He has good size and can stop the run.
Justin Durant played well when healthy. The Lions might be better off with DeAndre Levy, who also is set to hit free agency contributing as a backup, like Bobby Carpenter.
Detroit’s defense would suffer tremendously if Levy and Tulloch both leave via free agency and would certainly leave major holes to fill.
Vontaze Burfict could fall to the Lions when they pick, but Detroit has a history of picking the best player available, regardless of position.