After a disappointing year in performance, discipline and leadership, the Lions have landed a 4-12 record and the fifth seed of the upcoming NFL draft.
General manager Martin Mayhew has many tough decisions to make and doesn't have much room to strike out with this offseason. With a limited cap space and a need for new players on the roster, the Lions need more success with the draft than free agency.
The majority of Detroit's holes lie on defense. The Lions need to upgrade at cornerback, safety and defensive end. Right tackle will also have a vacancy with Gosder Cherilus becoming a free agent.
The Lions will stick with their "best player available" strategy, but they can't afford to neglect the areas of need. Detroit's secondary was depleted with injuries, and the defensive line wasn't consistent or disruptive enough.
The Lions have many options they can take with their first pick, but the most sensible decision would be drafting Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner.
Veterans Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril both become free agents this offseason. Vanden Bosch is getting old and hasn't produced enough to return. Avril still has a positive upside, but his price tag could cost him a ticket out of Detroit.
Likely losing both starters, Werner is the perfect player to start over with.
The nicknamed "Germinator" has been a machine for the Seminoles after breaking out his sophomore season with seven sacks. Werner took his playing level a notch up to 13 sacks and 18 tackles for loss in 2012, earning him ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors.
At 6'4'', 255 pounds, Werner plays with an intense motor, athleticism and a smart understanding of the game. He excels at pressuring quarterbacks as well as stopping the run.
His skill set is perfect to pair next to tackles Ndamukong Suh or Nick Fairley. Suh and Fairley take frequent double-teams, creating one-on-one opportunities for the ends. Werner can take advantage of those matchups and create havoc in an opposing backfield.
The Lions want to keep the defensive line as the anchor of the defense. Defensive ends like Jared Allen, J.J. Watt and Aldon Smith have also become the staple of a good defense. Werner can be that piece for Detroit and can keep the defensive line as the strong suit.
While secondary appears as the immediate unit in need of help, and big-named players like linebacker Manti Te'o could be intriguing at No. 5, Werner is the more logical talent that fills a need. Other positions can be filled later in the draft, while a force like Werner could be too good to pass up.
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