10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: What is the Lions biggest remaining need heading into the draft?

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: There are still some needs to address on the roster, but I believe the most pressing to be at tight end, even with the addition of veteran Jesse James in free agency. I like the James signing. He’s versatile, was underutilized in Pittsburgh, and he’s a scheme fit here in Detroit under Darrell Bevell.

But the other two tight ends on the roster are Michael Roberts and Jerome Cunningham. Roberts has 13 catches in two years and Cunningham has played in 12 career games. Detroit needs more depth at the position.

This tight end draft class is loaded. Detroit can get an elite one in the first round. If they go another route in round one, I’d expect them to grab one in Day 2, where there should be impact players at the position well into the second and third rounds.

20man: Good question. Pass rushers can always have an immediate impact, but with Trey Flowers, Romeo Okwara and Da’Shawn Hand all being established veterans, my guess would be any rookie pass rusher would be part of a rotation -- Still impactful, but as part of the group effort.

A playmaking linebacker probably has the best shot to make an immediate impact on a defense that finished 2018 ranked in the top 10 in the league. A Devin White-type player, for example, could potentially come in and make a big impact playing next to Jarrad Davis right away.

I’m always weary of rookie cornerbacks in the first round. That’s a tough position to play, and it normally takes time to develop players. Denzel Ward and Marshon Lattimore the last couple years earned Pro Bowl nods as rookies, but that’s more of an anomaly than the norm. Both of those players were also the clear-cut, top cornerback in their class and a top five overall talent in the draft. I don’t see that kind of player in this class of cornerbacks.

If the offensive playmaker is a tight end, he could have an immediate impact.

The offensive line is an interesting one for me, and an area I think potentially could have the most impact. If the Lions find themselves a starting right guard in the draft, with the way this team wants to be balanced and run the ball, he could ultimately have the biggest impact of them all.

20man: I think it’s put more offensive players into the conversation, no doubt. Without the signing of Flowers, I would have said pass rusher at No. 8 with about 75 percent certainty. That could still be the pick, but I think what Quinn accomplished in free agency filling the team's four biggest needs opens up the draft to take best available.

Let’s not forget that Jesse James and Danny Amendola were also signed in free agency as impact players. Oday Aboushi will compete for the starting right guard spot. It’s not like Quinn only addressed the defense in free agency.

Offensively, I’d expect the Lions to continue to add young depth to their offensive line, at tight end, wide receiver, backup quarterback and potentially another running back, depending on what happens with the rest of free agency, with some of their nine draft picks.

Could one of those be at No. 8? It’s certainly more possible than it was at the start of free agency.

20man: If you’ve followed me on Twitter or read my work over the years, you’d know I’m not much into the prediction business. Too many unforeseen factors, mostly injury, can spoil the best of predictions.

To answer the second part of your question ...

1. I’d like to see the Lions add another veteran cornerback and a veteran backup quarterback in free agency.

2. When it comes to the draft, it’s important to add some young playmakers on offense.

3. There’s also the business of re-signing some players heading into the final year of their contracts. That’s something Quinn has typically taken care of right before training camp or before the start of the regular season. The two most notable players among that list are defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson and center Graham Glasgow.

20man: Closer to the latter. I believe free agency addressed the four biggest offseason needs for the Lions (pass rusher, tight end, cornerback and wide receiver), and has allowed Quinn the opportunity to trust his board and take best player available.

Quinn has always stated his draft philosophy as being a blend of best available and need. The needs aren’t as great as they were heading into free agency, so best available probably rules the day. If that’s the case, more position groups are in the mix.

20man: All three starters from last season – Jarrad Davis, Devon Kennard and Christian Jones – are under contract. Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Steve Longa are also under contract and provide veteran depth.

The Lions could certainly add to that group before the draft, but I don’t necessarily see that being with a marquee (i.e. expensive) name.

I also don’t think they necessarily have to get one at No. 8, either. LSU’s Devin White is probably the one name that can be considered at No. 8 among the interior linebacker class. Maybe Michigan’s Devin Bush works his way into the conversation.

Some outside linebackers, like Josh Allen and Brian Burns, could be in the mix.

Like I’ve written above, I don’t think the Lions are in a situation where they have to feel the need to reach for a position at No. 8. They can trust the best available on their board. If it’s a linebacker, so be it. If not, they have a veteran group that played pretty well down the stretch last year and will be a year wiser in Matt Patricia’s scheme.

20man: Allen is a terrific pass rusher, but I’d be a little surprised if he was there at No. 8. Maybe if there’s a run on quarterbacks early or something else unforeseen.

When talking about other names to consider at No. 8, tight end T.J. Hockenson fits a need and could certainly fit best player available. He might be the best blocking tight end to come into the league in a long time. He’s smooth in the passing game, and looks to be a complete player at the position.

There’s a number of pass rushers that could fall in line at No. 8. Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat is one of them. He was the best player I watched at the Senior Bowl, and he backed it up with a great Combine. He played in both a 4-3 and 3-4 in college. He’s a guy you can move all over.

White is another name I’ve talked about as potentially being a fit at No. 8. He’s got a terrific skill set as an immediate three-down player with cover skills and speed.

I think there’s more options at No. 8 that could potentially fit than you might think.

20man: Tough to say at this point. I truly believe it will be the best player on their board and they won’t go into the draft saying, ‘We have to get someone at X position.’

I think the positions that make the most sense at No. 8 (if they stay there) would be a defensive lineman – this class is full of good ones, one of the top tight ends, a playmaking linebacker, a top offensive lineman or potentially a cornerback.

Personally, I’m liking the thought of the Lions getting a top playmaking linebacker to pair with Davis. That might really solidify this defense, given what else they’ve accomplished in free agency.

20man: I have not heard of anything. I know a lot of work went into the uniform redesign a couple years ago, and most of the feedback has been very positive. I’ve heard nothing of further changes, but since you bring it up, I’ll ask team president Rod Wood about it when we talk to him at next week’s annual league meetings.

20man: Quandre Diggs and last year’s third-round pick, Tracy Walker, are the likely starters at this point. Behind them are experienced veterans Tavon Wilson, and the recently signed Andrew Adams, who had four interceptions for the Bucs last season.

Safety is a position with talent, experience and production, with players having a wide range of skill sets. I wouldn’t consider safety a big position of need at this point. That’s not to say they can’t add a player, if he fits their board and draft position, but I don’t consider it a top need heading into the draft.

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