Setting Realistic Expectations for Detroit Lions' Free-Agent Signings
NFL free agency isn't over, but the Detroit Lions aren't likely to make any major moves. So while there isn't much speculation left regarding who is joining the team, there is plenty to discuss regarding how the recent arrivals and returns will fare on the field.
That's right. You've clicked on a way-too-early-but-what-the-heck statistical predictions article.
Defensive End Darryl Tapp
Let's be clear, Darryl Tapp isn't going to come in and spearhead the team's efforts to increase sack production. In fact, if he finishes the season with three sacks, it would match his most productive season over the past five years.
Tapp is a depth signing. He will be fourth in the defensive end rotation as it stands today behind Ezekiel Ansah, Jason Jones and Devin Taylor. His addition probably means that the Lions plan to give more reps to Taylor in the hopes that he takes a step forward in 2014.
That doesn't mean Tapp doesn't have value. It just means he's more likely to contribute on special teams than with the defense.
Stats Prediction: 2.5 sacks, 4 quarterback hurries, 24 total tackles
Running Back Joique Bell
Don't worry. I wasn't planning on spending the whole slideshow boring you with backups. Just most of it.
However, that title doesn't apply to Joique Bell. He's more of a 1B with 1A tendencies and a starter's contract.
Bell should benefit greatly from Joe Lombardi's arrival. The new offensive coordinator has roots in the New Orleans system of using multiple backs and riding the hot hand.
And you can be sure that Lombardi and head coach Jim Caldwell will be trotting out both Bell and Reggie Bush on plenty of plays. There aren't many slot receivers who can break a big play better than Bush (provided, of course, that he actually catches the ball).
Lastly, Bush is 29 years old and has dealt with injuries his whole career. There's no reason Bell shouldn't take a step forward statistically across the board.
Stat Prediction: 171 rushing attempts, 741 rushing yards, 54 receptions, 564 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns
Linebacker Julian Stanford
It's back to reality.
The Lions didn't make many meaningful additions and most of the retained or new talent will play more of a supportive role. That's life when you already have three mega- or close-to-mega stars on the roster.
Julian Stanford followed the trail of bread crumbs left by plenty of his former Jacksonville Jaguars teammates to Detroit. Once there, he was reunited with his former special teams coach, John Bonamego, after Travis Lewis was suspended for failing a drug test.
In four games in 2013, he posted three tackles, spending all of his time on special teams. His numbers should follow a similar track this year, and unless they see a significant upturn, that's probably not good news for the Lions.
Stat Predictions: 13 tackles
Wide Receiver Kevin Ogletree
The Lions knew they had to address the wide receiver position and did so by bringing in former Seahawk Golden Tate. They also decided to keep their depth by bringing back Kevin Olgetree and Kris Durham.
We'll get to Durham in a minute. As for Ogletree, it's entirely possible he doesn't even make the team.
Ogletree will likely begin training camp buried on the depth chart behind guys like Durham, oft-injured Ryan Broyles and possibly Jeremy Ross, who gets a leg up thanks to his return skills and better upside.
The former Cowboy and Buccaneer isn't a stranger to moving teams before or during the season, and that's likely the case this year. There are too many people in front of him now, and there's the distinct possibility that Detroit will bring in another rookie wideout this year to play slot.
Stat Predictions: None
Wide Receiver Kris Durham
Kris Durham isn't dumb. He's certainly aware that Golden Tate was brought in because Durham couldn't handle the No. 2 job. He probably also noticed what happened to Nate Burleson when he couldn't hack it.
Granted, the Lions never intended to force Durham into such a prominent role. Injuries created the opportunity, and Durham wasn't able to capitalize.
His biggest issue was with catchable balls. He ended the season with 10 drops against only 38 catches and added a fumble for poor measure.
As I just mentioned in the last slide, I don't believe the Lions are done adding receiving threats. Durham might make the team due to his height and chemistry with Stafford, but he won't come close to approaching his 2013 numbers.
Stat Predictions: 10 receptions, 137 yards, 2 touchdowns
Wide Receiver Golden Tate
I had to save Golden Tate for last. I'm not stupid (usually). If he had been the first slide, you wouldn't have had a chance to skim the rest of my wisdom nuggets.
Wisdom nuggets? Yes. Wisdom nuggets.
Anyways, Tate has to be salivating at the thought of playing under Caldwell and Lombardi while playing with Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford, Bush and Bell. Plus, he has arguably the best hands in the league with only five drops in the past three years. Now, he'll get to showcase his wares in a pass-heavy offense.
With the exception of a few heathens that root for that team in South Bend, football fans in the state of Michigan surely remember what Tate can do with the ball in his hands. Even in the run-first, run-second and maybe-pass-on-third offense in Seattle, Tate still racked up 506 yards after the catch during the regular season.
In short, he's exactly what the Lions need.
Stat Predictions: 88 receptions, 1,109 yards, 8 touchdowns
All stats are courtesy of Pro Football Focus and require a subscription.
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