The Detroit Lions went 10-6 in 2011 and made the playoffs as the sixth seed. They started out the year 5-0 but finished poorly overall to the tune of a 5-6 record. Their second half against the New Orleans Saints in Wild Card weekend ultimately ended their season, and the Lions will be looking to make some upgrades at key positions this offseason.
Here are the Lions top four candidates for their 23rd overall pick this April.
Mike Adams, OT
After Matthew Stafford's breakout season in 2011, the Lions should start to think about investing in their franchise quarterback. Getting some young, talented offensive tackles in the draft this year will be a good way to start.
Mike Adams is a skilled offensive tackle from Ohio State. He could come in to Detroit and be their left tackle of the future. He might not be as good as Matt Kalil this year, but he's still one of the best tackles in the draft and would be a great option to protect Stafford's blind side for years to come.
Peter Konz, C
This is another pick that could really help Detroit in their quest to make sure Stafford's injury problems don't resurface anytime soon. Peter Konz is the best center in this year's draft and would be a great pick up to be the Lion's center of the future.
If Konz falls all the way to pick 19, then the Chicago Bears would probably draft him. However, the Bears also have a lot of positions to fill, so they might go after a Michael Floyd or a Melvin Ingram. That would leave Peter Konz to the Lions (if he falls a few more slots), and the Lions would be one more step towards filling out their line.
Alfonzo Dennard, CB
Alfonzo Dennard would be a good pick by the Lions because they really need help at cornerback. The Lions have Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler in the same division, so they are going to want to invest in their pass coverage as best as they can this off season to make the playoffs again in 2012.
Dennard is a very good option in the draft to help fill the need at cornerback. He is a solid tackler and a great physical player. He flourishes in zone coverage and has great closing speed. He's also very good at man coverage, but can sometimes gets too physical and gets flagged for holding and interference.
Overall, though, Dennard would be a great addition to this Lions team in 2012.
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB
Dre Kirkpatrick was a boss last year for Alabama. He was a lock down corner back and made first team All-American. He's great in coverage and run support and he'd be a player that can line up against a Greg Jennings or Jordy Nelson next season.
The Lions need cornerback help next year and drafting Kirkpatrick is one of the best ways they can get it.
The Lions (at least in the first round) really want to focus on offensive line and cornerback help. With Matthew Stafford in need of better protection and elite quarterbacks lurking in the NFC North, the Lions need to be sure that they can still get into the playoffs in 2012.
A good first round draft pick next year will help solidify their contention.