Detroit Lions making some big free agency news? This is not something that happens very often.
Usually the Lions stay pretty quiet in free agency and just add some second tier players that will never really do much or get them a championship.
Now, I'm not saying they're doing a ton more than they have in the past, but they have added at least one great signing, and grabbed another guy who may be a little better than second tier player.
First, lets look at the not-so-big pick-up, DT Corey Williams. Sure, he's not starting material, nor will he ever be if you ask me, but he provides good back-up depth. He hasn't made much news, but depth is key on winning teams and that is what he provides, so don't overlook this addition.
Next, we've got the first signing from free agency, WR Nate Burleson. First off, he doesn't impress me much at all, but I have to look at the big picture. They did overpay him though, no matter what anyone says.
Nate put up decent numbers last year, and he's had 800 yard seasons, but again, it's nothing that impressive. He's had a long time to blossom, and never really has. I get that he adds speed and help for Calvin, in posing as a somewhat deep threat, but he's not the fastest guy out there.
Nate is an upgrade over any receiver the Lions have, excluding Calvin obviously, and he will replace Johnson. It's still not the passing game of the Arizona Cardinals, but picking him up this early helps get chemistry growing and will help improve the Lions passing offense.
With a year under his belt and a higher comfort level with Calvin, Matt Stafford will look to improve his numbers. Having a better No. 2 option will definitely help that, and Stafford can now focus on gaining chemistry with Nate.
Nate will also be a good punt- and kick-returning option, and with the way Derrick Williams looked last year, we definitely need that as well. So this was a good pick-up, but the Lions overpaid a little.
Last, but not least so far, we have DE Kyle Vanden Bosch. Kyle played for head coach Jim Schwartz in Tennessee, and Vanden Bosch is familiar with Jim's schemes. He's obviously going to be expected to step in from day one and be the starter.
Kyle provides a huge upgrade on the defensive line and a legitimate Pro Bowler who still has a lot of gas left. He will be a star for that team from the beginning and will definitely be a leader.
This is exactly the kind of signing the Lions needed to make this year to show they really are looking to improve.
Enough about Kyle though, I'm sure you've read all about him from everyone else. Let's take a look at what the Lions still need to do to improve even more.
Here's what I think the Lions still need to do this year: They need to pick-up a RB, SS, CB(two), OL, DT, and WR. Here are some players who could end up in Detroit, or at least who would make the most sense.
RB: Larry Johnson, Thomas Jones, LT, Darren Sproles, Brian Westbrook
The Lions need a new No. 1 back. Smith is good, but he would work better as the second string RB who still receives a lot of touches. Larry Johnson averaged 4.4 yards per game last year in a short time with the Bengals.
Johnson can still get it done out of the backfield, and he would really help improve this offense. With Johnson starting and Smith still getting a lot of touches, this could be a good RB tandem.
Thomas Jones is still easily a 1,000 yard back, and he's already gone through sharing carries with Shonn Greene. This relationship would work well with him and Smith, and again, this could improve the offense and give the Lions a legit No. 1
LaDainian Tomlinson would be a great second stringer if the Lions are looking to keep Smith as the starter and lighten his load some. Plus, LT could help Smith a ton, and LT can do a lot of things like carry the ball or run a wildcat formation.
Sproles and Westbrook would both be more of the pass catching second stringers if they were signed by the Lions, but they could create some stuff out of the backfield and give this offense another option.
SS: Eric Berry
I'm not sold on Gerald McCoy at all. He's good enough for a top-five pick maybe, but not by the Lions. If the Rams for some reason end up drafting Ndamukong Suh, I think the Lions need to go with Eric Berry here.
Think about it: Louis Delmas is a second year FS now who worked out great for the Lions. Now, you add Eric Berry who has so much insane talent, and you're set at both safety positions for the next 15 years.
It makes too much sense to me. Sure, the defensive line needs help. I understand that fully, but it's not every year you get the chance to draft someone with Berry's talent and ability at a much needed position.
The defensive secondary for the Lions has sucked for many years, as we are all well aware. You add Eric to the secondary, and already your safety positions are set. Besides with all the depth at DT in the draft this year and the availability of free agent DTs, it makes even more sense to get Berry fast and a DT later or in free agency.
CB: Leigh Bodden
Bodden is a must here. Now that Dunta Robinson is gone, the Lions almost have to go after Leigh. CB will continue to be the Lions downfall if they don't sign someone big this year, in my opinion.
Lito Sheppard would also be a decent option here. He was just released by the Jets and he still has a few years left. In my opinion, signing both Lito and Leigh is an almost-must, unless the Lions plan on drafting CBs in the first two rounds (doesn't look like that's going to happen).
OL: Kevin Mawae, Bobbie Williams, Mike Gandy
The offensive line for the Lions always seems to need help. You can never really have enough talent at offensive line, so the more the better. Every position on that offensive line could easily be upgraded, but lets look at a few big additions that could really help.
Mawae looks like an extremely good option at center. Coach Schwartz has been around him, and he still has a few years left. He would be a big improvement over any center on the Lions' roster, and would be a starter right away.
He would also provide great veteran leadership skills and abilities that are almost essential for building a good offensive line around.
Bobbie Williams would be a decent option for helping a younger guy that the Lions would possibly draft, while adding some security and depth. The Lions would do well to draft a guard and sign Bobbie to help him along.
Mike Gandy should be the Lions No. 1 option at the tackle position. Talented tackles are few and far between and rarely very good in free agency, but he's somehow slipped through (possibly because of age). But he could help get this line moving in the right direction.
DT: Jamal Williams, Bryan Robinson, Tank Johnson
Suh has to be the pick in the draft if he's available, but let's think possibly that the Lions would somehow go with Berry like I suggested above. Jamal Williams and Bryan Robinson would be an upgrade over the Lions starters.
Williams used to be the best, but injuries have really hurt. However, he could be great when healthy. Tank Johnson also would be a huge signing for the Lions if they could somehow lure him in.
WR: Kevin Walter
Last but least, I know the Lions just signed Burleson but you can never have enough good receivers. The Lions now have a legit No. 1 in Calvin and a deep threat No. 2 in Nate. Now all they need is a slot receiver (No. 3). Dennis Northcutt was decent, and so was Derrick Williams, but Northcutt is on the decline and Williams doesn't show much promise.
Just signing Walter would improve the passing game that much more.