The Detroit Lions addressed a number of needs in free agency with veteran players, which has allowed them to approach the draft as they always have under general manager Bob Quinn, by blending best available player with the needs of the roster.
With the draft fast approaching, let's take a look across the current Lions roster and evaluate where there are still some needs to fill.
1. Pass rusher
Currently on roster: Trey Flowers, Jamie Collins, Romeo Okwara, Austin Bryant, Jonathan Wynn, Da'Shawn Hand
Twentyman's take: This was a Lions team that recorded just 28 sacks last season and didn't affect the quarterback consistently enough to play good pass defense. The Lions were last in the NFL defensively against the pass in 2019. The addition of Collins should help, and we'll see what Bryant can do in year two after missing most of his rookie season due to injury, but it's a unit that could use at least one more young rusher to add to the mix. Somehow snagging Chase Young at No. 3 would be a huge win for Detroit and could immediately upgrade the pass rush either as a bookend defensive end opposite Flowers, or a standup edge rusher in an outside linebacker role.
Top 5 available edge rushers: Chase Young (Ohio State), A.J. Epenesa (Iowa), Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State), K'Lavon Chaisson (LSU), Josh Uche (Michigan).
2. Interior offensive line
Currently on the roster: Frank Ragnow, Joe Dahl, Oday Aboushi, Kenny Wiggins, Beau Benzschawel, Caleb Benenoch, Russell Bodine, Josh Garnett, Casey Tucker
Twentyman's take: As I see it, the Lions have a terrific starter at center in Ragnow, an ascending player in Dahl at left guard and then a lot of question marks at right guard. Aboushi got some run there last year, but he's been more of a journeyman throughout his career, playing in no more than eight games in each of the last five seasons with four different teams. The Lions like where Benzschawel was trending at the end of last year, but will he be ready to compete for a starting role in year two? Even if he is, there are plenty of question marks that go along with that scenario. It would certainly make sense for the Lions to look to add to that group, maybe as early as their first pick in Day 2.
Top 5 available interior offensive linemen: Cesar Ruiz (Michigan), Lloyd Cushenberry (LSU), Ben Bredeson (Michigan), Netane Muti (Fresno State), Logan Stenberg (Kentucky)
3. Defensive tackle
Currently on the roster: Danny Shelton, Nick Williams, Da'Shawn Hand, John Atkins, Kevin Strong, Olive Sagapolu
Twentyman's take: The addition of Shelton and Williams via free agency was the beginning of the offseason revamp to Detroit's interior defensive line, but that transformation isn't likely to be over. Hand, a fourth-round pick by the Lions a couple drafts ago, has terrific potential, but injuries have plagued him his first two seasons. The Lions need at least one more young body to add to that group to stabilize their talent and depth inside. It could be with their first pick, with a player like Auburn's Derrick Brown, or Quinn could look to address his depth there with one of his three Day 2 picks. Either way, I'd expect Quinn to look to bolster his numbers in the interior with a selection or two in this draft.
Top 5 available defensive tackles: Derrick Brown (Auburn), Javon Kinlaw (South Carolina), Ross Blacklock (TCU), Neville Gallimore (Oklahoma), Justin Madubuike (Texas A&M)
4. Wide receiver
Currently on the roster: Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola, Marvin Hall, Chris Lacy, Travis Fulgham, Tom Kennedy
Twentyman's take: But Tim ... the Lions return all three of their top receivers from last season. This is true, but my counter to that would be that none of those three are signed beyond the 2020 season. The Lions and Golladay's people will probably talk about an extension sometime this summer, but Jones and Amendola are in their 30's and in the final year of their contracts. Detroit could look to a historic draft in terms of talent and depth at receiver to find a long-term pairing for Golladay. What a perfect situation for a young receiver to come into in Detroit. He can learn from some crafty veterans in an offense that loves to push the ball down the field in the passing game while not having to be counted on to be the man early on.
Top 5 available wide receivers: CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma), Jerry Jeudy (Alabama), Henry Ruggs III (Alabama), Justin Jefferson (LSU), Tee Higgins (Clemson)
Currently on the roster: Desmond Trufant, Justin Coleman, Darryl Roberts, Amani Oruwariye, Jamal Agnew, Tony McRae, Mike Jackson
Twentyman's take: The addition of Trufant to fill the loss of Darius Slay (traded to Philadelphia) isn't a straight one-for-one in terms of talent, but Trufant is an experienced No. 1 cornerback. Roberts also brings veteran experience to that group. Oruwariye showed some good things as a rookie, and should come back better in year two, but still, teams can never have enough good cornerbacks, especially with the frequency in which teams play in sub packages on defense. Nickel (five defensive backs) is the base defense of today's NFL. A player like Ohio State's Jeff Okudah would step in and compete right away to be the top cornerback on the roster, improving Detroit's depth at the position immensely.
Top 5 available cornerbacks: Jeff Okudah (Ohio State), C.J. Henderson (Florida), Kristian Fulton (LSU), Trevon Diggs (Alabama), Jaylon Johnson (Utah).
6. Running back
Currently on roster: Kerryon Johnson, Bo Scarbrough, Ty Johnson, Tra Carson, Wes Hills, Nick Bawden (FB)
Twentyman's take: Consider me a big Kerryon Johnson fan. When healthy, I think he's a terrific three-down back with a ton of potential. Unfortunately, availability has been a big issue with him. Knee injuries in each of his first two seasons have limited him to just 18 games. He showed some moxie coming back off IR last season and playing pretty well late, but the Lions could look to add some depth and security to the running back room.
Top 5 available running backs: D'Andre Swift (Georgia), Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin), J.K. Dobbins (Ohio State), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (LSU), Cam Akers (Florida State)