Detroit Lions Free Agency 2011: Available Players They Must Target Post-Lockout

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Detroit Lions Free Agency 2011: Available Players They Must Target Post-Lockout
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

With the lockout still in place two things are not happening: free agency and rookies getting the benefit of an offseason workout program with the coaches. Since both need to happen by no later than the end of July in order to minimize the ripple effect of the lockout, my fingers are crossed that we all hear great news within the next couple of days.

Who knows, Tuesday could even be the day the lockout ends.

Free agency needs to happen this year regardless of when the newly acquired draftees get their real practice time in.

The Detroit Lions have done an excellent job of holding workouts for the players but the rookies can still only learn so much without the coaches.  This is not an issue that only effects the Lions, of course, but because of the upward note they left the 2010 season on, it will be even more important to keep this momentum going into 2011.

One proven formula to keep playing at a high level is to keep as many players from last season as possible for continuity and to fill holes with the right veteran free agents who know the 4-3 scheme and can play immediately.  This will give the rookies time to learn and ease into the games when they have a better feel for how it's played in Detroit.

I have no doubt that the Lions top tier rookies will find their way but accurate route running but the offensive and defensive schemes specific to the Lions, takes a lot of time studying and months of practice to learn.  Of course, with that said, last year's top pick rookies (Ndamukong Suh and Jahvid Best) did very well right from the beginning.

Regardless how this years rookie class will fair, the Lions have to focus on certain key players as soon as free agency opens.  For now, we'll look at the biggest needs on defense.

Here is a list of players who could fill the holes in Detroit and should be in the cross-hairs of the Lions free agency plan.

Note:  This article is looking at free agents only and is not considering other possible trade scenarios.

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