Lions have potential to build a dominant defense

Posted Feb 10, 2016

When it comes to building a formidable defense, the Lions have the cap space, draft picks and some Pro Bowl-caliber players already in place.

Over the last three seasons the Denver Broncos completely transformed the identity of their football team.

They were an offensive juggernaut in 2013 and rode that wave of offensive success all the way to the Super Bowl. But they were systematically dismantled by Seattle’s top-ranked defense in the big game.

Following that loss, Denver spent big money acquiring defensive end DeMarcus Ware, cornerback Aqib Talib and safety T.J. Ward. They saw first-hand what a great defense can do, and revamped their team accordingly.

One year after reloading on defense, the Broncos were the league’s top-ranked D in 2015 and this time rode that wave to the Super Bowl. Their defense was the difference in the game this time around and helped them secure their first title since 1999.

This is a copycat league and the Detroit Lions should pay close attention. 

Lions general manager Bob Quinn could have up to $40 million in cap space this offseason. They should also have at least 10 picks in April’s NFL Draft.

There’s a real opportunity in Detroit to build something great on the defensive side of the football.

The cupboard isn’t bare to start with, either. There’s already talent under contract at every level of Detroit’s defense – defensive end Ziggy Ansah, linebacker DeAndre Levy, cornerback Darius Slay and safety Glover Quin.

Also factor in the return of defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, and Quinn has a nice base to build from.

Quinn is coming from an organization that made defense a priority, especially through the draft. Over the last 10 drafts, New England selected a defensive player in the first round eight times. They took defensive players at a 2-to-1 clip (20-10) over their first three selections in each draft during that span.

Detroit’s taken a defensive player first in the draft just four of the last 10 years. Of the first three players taken over the last 10 drafts, Detroit’s taken 17 offensive players vs. 13 on defense.

Quinn will have to replace Calvin Johnson’s production if he makes his retirement official, and also upgrade the offensive line, but he’s coming from an organization that spends considerable resources on defensive football.

Denver has to be the model. The Lions have the cap space, draft picks and Pro Bowl-caliber players to build around. If this is done right, Detroit has the potential to be scary-good on defense in 2016.