That was a good start to the 2013 season, but the Lions still have needs to address. They’ll get a chance to fill a number of them via the NFL Draft, which begins Thursday at 8 p.m.
"You don’t have those seven immediate, impact starters that change your franchise at the top of this draft," Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said last week. "You have a bunch of good quality players.
"We didn’t give as many first-round grades this year as we normally give. This draft goes deeper into the second round this year - we call those red grades. Goes a little deeper into the second."
The Lions are hoping to get four starters out of this draft.
It would certainly benefit them to get starters at some remaining positions of need.
Here are my top five positions of need for Lions:
1. Defensive end
The Lions are likely to add a defensive end in this draft; it’s just a matter of when.
Jones is a solid addition. He hasn't started since 2011, but the Lions love his versatility as a three-down rusher and he has the potential to excel playing alongside
On the other side, it’s time for Young, who’ll be entering his fourth season, to step up and be a bigger contributor. He showed flashes in the preseason last year, but it didn't translate into the regular season. The former seventh-round pick did not record a single sack in 15 games last year. He has to fill some of the void left by the departures of Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch.
Lewis, like Young, has to play a bigger role in 2013. A fourth-round pick last year, Lewis played just one defensive snap as a rookie.
How the draft might help: The draft is deep with athletic rushers, especially at the top, but there are question marks surrounding some of those players.
When is raw too raw to immediately help when it comes to Ziggy Ansah?
Can Dion Jordan put his hand in the dirt and play the traditional 4-3-edge rusher role?
The Lions might actually find more value -- and fewer question marks -- in the second round with players like Alex Okafor (Texas), Bjoern Werner (Florida State) and Sam Montgomery (LSU), who could potentially be there for the Lions with the No. 36 pick.
2. Offensive line
The most immediate need is right guard, but selecting one of the top tackles could help all the pieces fall into place.
If the Lions take one of the top left tackles at No. 5, there’s the potential to move the versatile
If the Lions don't get a left tackle, Reiff will be the favorite to start there in 2013.
The Lions could also be on the lookout for a center in the draft, too.
How draft might help: The draft could offer the Lions some immediate help at right guard via Alabama’s Chance Warmack or North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper in the first round.
Other players to consider in the first few rounds at guard would be Kyle Long (Oregon), Justin Pugh (Syracuse), Larry Warford (Kentucky), Travis Frederick (Wisconsin), Barrett Jones (Alabama) and Brian Winters (Kent State).
If the Lions decide to take a tackle and move Reiff over to right guard, the two players that make the most sense are Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M) and Eric Fisher (Central Michigan). Oklahoma's Lane Johnson is a bit raw to expect immediate impact in 2013.
3. Wide receiver
Not a popular thought, considering the resources the Lions have invested at the position over the last few years, but injuries and other issues have left them in need of a receiver once again.
Basically, they’re looking to replace Titus Young.
How might draft help: The Lions brought in a number of players during the pre-draft process who could fit. All four players – Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee), Justin Hunter (Tennessee), Robert Woods (USC) and Tavon Austin (West Virginia) – have tremendous speed and upside.
Austin is particularly interesting because of what he brings to the table in the return game. One NFL talent evaluator told me he’s the best return man he’s seen entering the draft in the last 10 years. He might project more as a slot receiver, but he certainly fits the definition of stretching the field ... wherever he lines up.
Austin won't be around at pick No. 36, so the Lions would have to take him at No. 5 (unlikely), trade down and take him, or move back into the first round after picking at No. 5.
Some other players who might fit in the first two days of the draft are: Keenan Allen (California), Terrance Williams (Baylor), DeAndre Hopkins (Clemson), Markus Wheaton (Oregon State), Quinton Patton (Louisina Tech) and Da’Rick Rogers (Tennessee Tech).
4. Cornerback talent/depth
But Tim, didn’t the Lions draft three cornerbacks last year?
They certainly did, but you can never have too many athletic, young cornerbacks on a roster. Historically, the position is the most injured in football. The more depth a team has there the better off they’ll be.
Drafting a corner offers some competition for the right cornerback spot and also inside at nickel. When is that ever a bad thing?
It’s been a long time since the Lions had a starting-caliber cornerback just waiting for his turn on the field.
How might draft help: Alabama’s Dee Milliner could be there for the Lions at No. 5. He fits the size profile (6-0, 201) and has tremendous speed. He’s not as polished as Patrick Perterson was coming out of LSU a couple years ago, but he projects to be a starting-caliber corner right away.
This draft is filled with a lot of big cornerbacks. Some other names that could be an option in the first two days of the draft for the Lions would be: D.J. Hayden (Houston), Desmond Trufant (Washington), Xavier Rhodes (Florida State), Darius Slay (Mississippi State), Jamar Taylor (Boise State) and Johnthan Banks (Mississippi State) ... just to name a few.
5. Tight end
The Lions are still looking for a No. 3 tight end to fit that H-back role in their offense. The team has yet to bring back last year's No. 3 tight end
The Lions garnered over 100 catches and 1,200 yards of production from their tight end position last year, but only five touchdowns. If there’s an athletic, all-around tight end available in the middle portion of this draft, it makes sense for the Lions for 2013 and the long term.
How draft might help: Travis Kelce is an interesting prospect in day two. He’s got the combination of skills the Lions are looking for and was also one of their 30 allotted pre-draft visits.
Maybe someone like Dion Sims (Michigan State) or Mychal Rivera (Tennessee) could fit a little later.
Honorable mention: Special teams
I’m talking punter, return man and tackling extraordinaire, specifically.
Don’t be surprised if the Lions use a late-round pick on a punter. Currently, only former Central Florida punter
The Lions brought in Sam Martin (Appalachian State) for a pre-draft visit and there are a couple big-leg punters in Brad Wing (LSU), Jeff Locke (UCLA) and Josh Hubner (Arizona State) in this draft.
The Lions would be more than happy if any receiver or running back they draft would have some return skills, as well.