Top 5 Most Pressing Needs for the Detroit Lions Post-Free Agency

Andrew Garda@andrew_gardaFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2013

DETROIT, MI - CIRCA 2011: In this handout image provided by the NFL,  Martin Mayhew of the Detroit Lions poses for his NFL headshot circa 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images

The Lions were definitely a team who had a tremendous opening week to free agency, bringing back key members of the defense like Chris Houston while adding new weapons like Reggie Bush.

On top of that, Ndamukong Suh and Calvin Johnson both restructured their contracts to make more room for free agents.

Of course, you don't have a four-win season and then fix everything instantly via free agency (nor a seven-win one—sorry Miami).

So naturally, there are more issues to deal with for the Lions.


5. Cornerback

Getting Chris Houston back was huge and makes this issue a lot less immediate than it was before the ink hit the dotted line on that contract.

That said, adding another solid corner is important. The team can hope Bill Bentley, Jonte Green or Chris Greenwood will be a rock-solid second cornerback, but the Lions shouldn't take any chances and look to continue to develop some alternatives.

The upshot of getting Houston back is that they don't have to waste a high pick this year, and between he and Aaron Nagler's boy, Dwight "Little Bill" Bentley, I feel like they'll be relatively all right.

So they can wait a little in the draft in a way I didn't feel they could last year.


4. Wide Receiver

I actually had a hard time with the next three as I feel like you could almost swap the order in numerous ways. What broke it for me was the chance Ryan Broyles comes back 100 percent and Nate Burleson can be solid.

The Lions still aren't "set" at receiver even if that's the case, but it's not a disaster either. I can see the Lions going early on a receiver, but the class is deep enough to where they will probably benefit from waiting until the third round.

They need someone to really, truly pull coverage off Calvin Johnson or take advantage of the double coverage going Megatron's way.


3. Outside Linebacker

Again, could be one notch higher. Having DeAndre Levy come back is key (via Detroit Free Press), but it's not solving anything, really. Who else will step up?

Ashlee Palmer, Tahir Whitehead and Travis Lewis have potential, but I wouldn't want to depend on them going into the season. The Lions need to find a solid pass-rusher who can bring some heat on the quarterback.

There are some interesting possibilities in the early second round and perhaps even some worth trading back into the first. Don't be shocked if they address this right off the top at No. 5, either; there are some very good possibilities there who can step in and make an immediate difference.


2. Defensive End

They franchised Willie Young, which is good because beyond him, it's just Ronnell Lewis. There's no other defensive end there right now.

Now, I'm actually a pretty big believer in Lewis, but he's not quite ready to carry the full load. Which means the Lions have to find some more help on the defensive line.

In fact, they need multiple players there. I can absolutely see a defensive end at No. 5 and then again at No. 36. I don't actually expect that to happen, but when you're thin as a rail at a position like this, nothing is ruled out.

There are some very good edge-rushing D-linemen in this draft, and the Lions can improve a ton.

The question becomes "how" and "when."

And maybe "how often," because they need a ton of help.


1. Offensive Line

So, while there are more warm bodies on the offensive line than there are at, say, defensive end, the retirement of Jeff Backus and the departure of Gosder Cherilus have me more concerned about it. 

Now, I'm sure that to some extent the Lions are just being vague because, well, that's what NFL teams do. But it is a little telling that they haven't committed to Riley Reiff at left tackle.

That is what they drafted him for in the first place, right?

That said, Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher (perhaps arguably Lane Johnson as well) are leaps and bounds better than Reiff was coming out. If one of them is there at No. 5, well, then the team could walk away with him and nobody would blink.

No matter where they grab a tackle though, they need one. Both of their starting tackles are gone.

On top of that, I'm not completely enamored with their guards, either, and frankly, Dominic Raiola isn't exactly a spring chicken.

He might not even count as a fall chicken, either.

So in brief, you're looking at a potential upgrade at almost every spot on the line. They have warm bodies to play the positions, but with few exceptions, they could use something better everywhere.


Did I hit everything? What didn't the Lions do in free agency that they have to take care of in the draft? What's the single biggest priority from here on out? Let me know in the comments.


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