The Lions' Crucial Step Is Here: Can Detroit Do What It Has Not for So Long?

David McClureCorrespondent IDecember 9, 2016

The new team of Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand started their tenure with the quality trade of Roy Williams and a sixth round pick to the Cowboys for a first round pick (No. 20) and a third round pick (No. 82).  They then took a long shot on a veteran quarterback looking for a second chance in Daunte Culpepper.

Although Daunte didn't work out, and we haven't seen the draft picks yet, it's nice to see them active and trying to make a difference.

Just this week Mayhew and Lewand found their head coach for the future in Jim Schwartz, the defensive coordinator from Tennessee. Now comes the critical step in the process that Lions have been missing: the position coaches.

The current NFL formula for success is to build with the draft and to build around young talent, to develop that talent, and to put that talent to work on the field. The Lions have  been terrible, at best, when it comes to developing talent. Some of their draft picks were bad picks, such as Charles Rogers, but most others were simply not given what they needed to develop into NFL players.

This will be the big challenge. With young potential playmakers including Calvin Johnson, Kevin Smith, Gosder Cherilus, Jerome Felton, Drew Stanton, Daniel Bullocks, and Cliff Avril, the new staff will have a real opportunity to develop some young talent that will be here for years to come. They also will have eight or more rookies that they can develop into quality contributors.

Jim Schwartz, in his pre-hire interview, joked that it was time to replace Bobby Lane. But we've seen the Lions replace Bobby Lane and then run him out of town.

If you look at the history of Lions draft picks, most of the players here never make it on the field with other teams and rarely are quality players for the Lions. If the new coaching staff cannot develop the young players that are here, then we are going to be the same old Lions for many years to come.

The Lions will never be better than the talent they place on the field. To build a program, you have to develop the players you have.

The coming weeks will tell me all I need to know about the future success of the Lions.