LIONS INSIDER

10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: What will Patricia address first?

Posted Feb 13, 2018

Tim Twentyman answers 10 fan-submitted questions as the Lions dive into the offseason.

From time to time this offseason Tim Twentyman will answer 10 good questions from his Twitter account @ttwentyman in a feature we call "10 Questions with Twentyman."

20man: Right now, Patricia is busy watching the tape and learning everything he can about the roster he just inherited in Detroit. What do players do well? What are his team’s strengths? Where are they weakest? After that, I believe there are five big questions he and general manager Bob Quinn will have to navigate through.

First, where does defensive end Ziggy Ansah fit into their plans? Ansah, the team’s leading sacker this past season (12.0), is an unrestricted free agent. Do the Lions try to work out a long-term deal, or is the franchise tag in play?

After evaluating all of his players, both under contract and pending free agents, what kind of defense will Patricia feature? He’s been known to be multiple in New England. Will that be the case in Detroit?

Patricia then needs to figure out what he likes in the running back room and what he thinks he needs to add. Quinn has already said that additions are likely coming at the position.

Is veteran defensive tackle Haloti Ngata part of the plan on defense? Ngata has said he’d like to return. Is there room for him in Patricia’s defense?

Finally, will the Lions be on the lookout for a guard or a center to round out their starting offensive line? Where Graham Glasgow lines up in 2018 will likely decide that.

Patricia got a late start because of New England’s Super Bowl run. He has a lot on his plate, and plans to hit the ground running.

20man: When Quinn sees an area of need, he’s not afraid to go and spend money to bolster it. He did it with wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. two offseasons ago, and also last year with the signing of T.J. Lang and Rick Wagner along the offensive line. This year, we could see a focus on the other side of the ball in free agency.

When asked right after the season what he thought were the strengths and weaknesses of his football team, Quinn said this of its weaknesses: “I think on defense we need to add some pieces.”

Specifically, the Lions need to bolster talent and depth in the front seven at pass rusher, defensive tackle and linebacker.

First up would be deciding on their own top free agent, Ansah. If he’s part of the plan moving forward, Quinn will have to decide if that’s via a new contract or franchise tag. Stay tuned. Teams can start tagging players Feb. 20.

It’s a little premature to start talking specific names in free agency because we don’t know who’ll be tagged or re-signed by their current clubs, but here’s a look at some of the top players available at positions of need on defense: Demarcus Lawrence (DE), Sheldon Richardson (DT), Dontari Poe (DT), Star Lotulelei (DT), Nigel Bradham (LB) and Avery Williamson (LB).

Offensively, the Lions could look to add a guard and a running back. The best guard on the market is Andrew Norwell, followed by Justin Pugh and Josh Kline.

The top running backs are: Le’Veon Bell, Dion Lewis, Carlos Hyde and Jerick McKinnon.

20man: I’m kind of glad I don’t have to make that decision. Ansah is so physically gifted. When he’s healthy, he’s one of the league’s best three-down edge players. But as we all know, he's dealt with a lot of lingering injuries over the last two years. It’s not his fault, but it’s on the resume nonetheless.

I can certainly see the logic to tag Ansah and make 2018 be kind of a show-me year. The obvious risk with that is if he does show out in a big way, the long-term deal conversations get pricier.

If it were me, I’d probably go the franchise tag route and see what kind of season 2018 brings.

20man: I talked to former Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky at the Super Bowl, and he is a huge fan of Graham Glasgow moving to center permanently.

If that indeed happens, then the only open position upfront will be at left guard with Taylor Decker (LT), Glasgow (C), Lang (RG) and Wagner (RT) all locked in to their spots.

Veteran Joe Dahl would be given a chance to compete for that spot, but don’t be surprised if Quinn looks for more competition via free agency and the draft.

20man: After watching Detroit struggle to run the football this past season, I believe there is a very big need for a back with size, speed and a proven resume of production.

I like Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick, but they have to be used in a way that highlights their strengths, which is in space and in the passing game.

The Lions need a workhorse or two at running back. Don’t be surprised at all if they sign a proven vet in free agency and then draft a running back in the first two days of the draft. That’s really the missing piece to what has the potential to be a much more explosive offense if it can find a way to be more balanced.

20man: Yes. Mike O’Hara and I were able to sit down with Patricia in Allen Park last Thursday, and we asked him about Jim Bob Cooter.

When Patricia was doing research on Detroit, before he even interviewed with Quinn and Rod Wood, Cooter was one of the people Patricia contacted.

Here’s his quote on Cooter:

“Everybody signs off on this guy. He’s vetted. He’s smart. I’ve gone against him a bunch of times. I know he’s a really good coach.

“I talked to him about the organization before I got into any sort of, ‘Do I want to be here?' At that point, you’re like, ‘If this works out, of course I want this guy.’”

Cooter will run the offense in 2018, but there will be some influences from what Patricia wants to see from that side of the ball.

20man: This is a good year for teams looking for help at running back. The homerun prospect of the bunch is Saquon Barkley, who is considered a generational talent and top five pick. After Barkley, it’s still a very talented and deep class.

Derrius Guice (LSU), Sony Michel (Georgia) and Ronald Jones (USC) are potential late first-round picks, who could be on the board at No. 20 if Quinn decides to go running back early.

Rashaad Penny (San Diego State), Kerryon Johnson (Auburn) and Nick Chubb (Georgia) are Day 2 prospects with a lot of upside.

The Lions could get a running back in the first two days of the draft, and they’ll have good options available to them whenever they do decide to take one.

Keep an eye on all these prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine later this month. I’ll keep you updated on their interviews and workouts, and we’ll see if any rise to the top of the list.

20man: Quinn would really have to like a player to move up from No. 20 and give up the kind of assets it would take to get into Top 10. Looking at the draft value chart, the difference between the 10th pick and 20th is about 450 points, which amounts to a high second-round pick.

Last year, Kansas City moved from 27 to 10 to pick quarterback Patrick Mahomes and gave up a third-round pick and this year’s first rounder.

I’m guessing it takes a combination of second and third-round picks in one or two draft cycles to move up from 20 into the Top 10.

Quinn has drafted a lot of players over the last two seasons who have become key young pieces to the franchise – Decker, A’Shawn Robinson, Glasgow, Anthony Zettel, Jarrad Davis, Kenny Golladay and Jamal Agnew to name a few. This roster still needs more talent and depth, especially on the defensive side of the ball. I’d rather see Quinn get more opportunities to add pieces than putting the all the eggs into a basket for one player.

20man: I’ll tell you one thing, Josh, I’ll never doubt Hyder when he puts his mind to something.

He’s been told a lot of times throughout his football career that he couldn’t do something or wasn’t good enough. He’s always proven those doubters wrong.

After making the switch from defensive tackle to defensive end following the 2015 season, and being a roster long-shot heading into the 2016 season, Hyder made the team in 2016 and led the defense with eight sacks that season.

He suffered an Achilles injury in training camp last year, which is his most recent obstacle to overcome.

“I don’t know how to half-(butt) it and not go hard,” Hyder said after the season ended. “I’m going to work hard, and if you all know me by now, you know I work hard and I’m not going to let anything stop me.

“I’m excited. I haven’t talked to you all in a long time. I’m excited to come back and I’m ready. I can’t wait.”

That’s a tough injury to come back from, but if anyone is going to come back from it and be in a position to help his team in 2018, it’s Hyder.

20man: One thing Patricia said at his introductory press conference that resonated with Lions fans was that, while he admired Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and greatly appreciated his mentorship over the last 14 years, he planned to be his own person with his own style.

The fact that he put the pencil in his ear during his press conference should give us a pretty good indication he’s going to do things his way. I’d actually be a little surprised if the backward hat and pencil in the ear weren’t a part of Sundays in Detroit.