The Detroit Lions won five games in 2020 and have a top 10 pick (No. 7) in April's NFL Draft for a second offseason in a row. Detroit ranked 32nd in total defense and 20th in total offense.
New Lions general manager Brad Holmes and new head coach Dan Campbell have some work to do, but both opted to use the word 'retool' instead of 'rebuild' in their introductory press conferences this week.
While both men said the collaboration and evaluation of the roster is underway, they plan to really dive into it in the coming days, and hope to get a good feel of where the talent level stands and how much work needs to be done this offseason to turn it into a more competitive roster.
"Brad and I are going to dive into that this weekend as it pertains to the roster," Campbell said Thursday. "But here's what I know from afar as I've looked and some of the tape that I have watched is, I just know this; there's some pieces here that I'm fired up about. I really am.
"Look, let's call a spade a spade, there's probably more pieces offensively than defensively that super fire me up, but that's tentatively kind of how I feel."
Center Frank Ragnow and tight end T.J. Hockenson were Pro Bowlers for the Lions on offense (along with punter Jack Fox). Quarterback Matthew Stafford had another 4,000-yard season. Campbell called Stafford "a stud," when asked about him specifically Thursday. Running back D’Andre Swift was one of only five rookies with 10 touchdowns this season. Taylor Decker was one of the best left tackles in football, and Kenny Golladay, when healthy, is a consistent 1,000-yard wide receiver.
"Defensively, I like the kid we picked up last year (Jeff) Okudah, he always stands out for you," Campbell said. "I've known Jamie Collins for a long time just having to face him in this league. Look, there are pieces in here. (Romeo) Okwara had a good year. There were a number of pieces here I was excited about."
Holmes and his personnel staff, along with Campbell and the Lions coaching staff, will be busy next week evaluating the talent down at the Senior Bowl. After that will be the evaluation of the college pro days, which will carry more significance with no NFL Scouting Combine workouts this year. In less than two months, the new league year begins, and with it free agency. There's a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it when it comes to evaluating this roster, free agency and this year's draft class.
"I'm going to go through it, but I also know this; there's always the ability to hit on a good draft and sign a few free agents that you feel believe the same way that you do as a program and come from winning programs, and they fit a role, they fit a piece," Campbell said.
"Listen, some things can happen. You can kind of make things a little more positive than maybe the perception is in the spring. That's what I mean by that. I'm not going to sit up here and tell you that it's not going to take some work.
"Brad said it best (Tuesday); there is going to be some retooling that's going to be needed. Those are the facts of the matter. What I'm saying is there's some pieces here that I certainly like and you can work with and you can see, man, if you can complement some of these pieces, whether it be Draft or free agency, I can see this thing being pretty positive moving forward. I guess that's what I'm trying to say."