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: The Lions need to improve their pass rush.
I like the re-signing of edge rusher Charles Harris in free agency. He was on a one-year, prove-it deal, and he was rewarded after leading the team with 7.5 sacks last year. The return of Romeo Okwara from an Achilles injury should also help in that department.
But Detroit's 30 sacks were the third fewest in the NFL a year ago, they had the second lowest pass rush win rate, and their 124 quarterback pressures were more than only Indianapolis (120) and Atlanta (105). For comparison, Tampa Bay led the league with 219, per Pro Football Reference stats.
There's still some upside to youngsters Julian Okwara and Austin Bryant on the edge for the Lions, but this position group could certainly use a little more help, and there are some really good edge rushers in this class. The Lions could guarantee themselves one of the top two pass rushers on their board with the No. 2 pick.
20man: Quarterback Jared Goff.
Goff heads into 2022 as Detroit's starter after playing really well to finish last season. He's expected to have one of the better offensive lines in the league in front of him, a very respectable run game that should be even better in 2022, a Pro Bowl tight end to throw to, a dynamic pass-catching back in D'Andre Swift and some nice weapons at receiver – with more help potentially on the way at receiver via next week's NFL Draft.
Ben Johnson, who was elevated to pass game coordinator midway through last season and had a direct impact on Goff's improved play the last month and a half of the season, is now Goff's offensive coordinator.
Goff's dead cap number drops from $30 million in 2022 to $10 million in 2023, which is very manageable if the Lions decide to move on after this year.
Goff is just 27 years old. He's been to two Pro Bowls and took a team to the Super Bowl. He's played and won a lot of big games in this league. If you protect him and give him weapons to throw to, he can stand back there and sling it with the best of them. We saw that at the end of last year. This season will go a long way in determining his long-term future in Detroit.
20man: This is just my gut speaking, but I think that percentage is pretty low at No. 2. That being said, the Lions are talking to Willis one last time this week as he reportedly will visit Allen Park for a pre-draft visit.
The Lions saw him up close for a week at the Senior Bowl. Head coach Dan Campbell was impressed with his athletic traits and upside, but some of the beat writers sat down with Campbell a couple weeks back and the biggest thing I took from that session was that he wanted a player at No. 2 who could be an impact guy Day 1. I don't see that being Willis.
The Lions' defense ranked 31st in points allowed per game (27.5), 29th in total defense (379.8), 28th against the run (135.1), 24th in pass defense (244.7), 29th in third-down defense (45.1 percent) and 31st in red zone efficiency (70.0) last season.
The biggest impact for me would be getting a Day 1 starter on defense.
20man: If Aidan Hutchinson is there, I think he's the guy. He checks off a lot of the boxes. A local kid who grew up in Plymouth and played his college ball in Ann Arbor. Heisman Trophy runner up after a record-breaking season at Michigan. Position versatility, relentless motor and no character concerns.
If Hutchinson goes No. 1, the Lions will have their choice of Kayvon Thibodeaux, Travon Walker and Jermaine Johnson II if they want to bolster their pass rush, which I think is their biggest need heading into the draft. Of those three, I personally like Johnson the best. I like everything about his game and I think he'd be a terrific fit coming off the edge and setting the edge in the Lions' defense.
There's a lot of momentum building for Walker with his athleticism and position versatility. The Lions are moving more to a 4-3 base front this season and having a guy that can play anywhere from a three-technique all the way to nine-technique is intriguing. I think Walker can be that kind of player.
20man: The Lions have done a lot of homework on Thibodeaux. Holmes saw one of his games live when the team was out in LA playing the Rams last year. They interviewed him at the Combine. Holmes and a contingent of Lions personnel went to Eugene for Thibodeaux's pro day. He was also reportedly brought in for a pre-draft visit. I'm sure they also had a chat with right tackle Penei Sewell, who played with Thibodeaux at Oregon when Thibodeaux was a freshman.
We did ask Sewell about Thibodeaux last October.
"He's very athletic, so he gave me a run for my money come practice days," Sewell told reporters when asked about Thibodeaux. "It was a battle.
"Shoot, off paper you can already see he has it all. And I think the message I will pass on to him is the same thing that I kind of went through is technique. You just got to lock into those things and that will make you better as a player, make you successful."
20man: At the top of the draft the most value comes in drafting quarterbacks, pass rushers and guys who can protect the quarterback. While there's not a generational quarterback or pass rushing prospect in this draft, there are two really good tackles in N.C. State's Ickey Ekwonu and Alabama's Evan Neal.
I believe if there's a team that wants to move up this year, it will be for one of the tackles, not a quarterback or pass rusher. I think that would be Detroit's best chance to move back and gain more assets.
But like you mentioned, it's not a great year for teams at the top of the draft looking to move back. Quarterbacks usually drive that train, and there just isn't that guy this year, unless someone has really fallen in love with Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett through the pre-draft process.
20man: Currently on the roster are: T.J. Hockenson, Brock Wright, Garrett Griffin, Hunter Bryant, Shane Zylstra, Matt Sokol, Jordan Thomas and Jared Pinkney.
Hockenson is a Pro Bowl-caliber player who has missed nine games his first three years due to injury.
I thought Wright came on strong last year and showed he can make plays in the passing game. He had a couple nice touchdowns late in the year when Hockenson was out. The biggest jump for players is between their first and second seasons.
I'd say the need is low, but if a player fits the draft spot on Day 3 (Rounds 4-7), I'm not going to complain about adding to a position that's become a matchup weapon in the NFL.
20man: For me, offensive line, running back and cornerback are currently the deepest positions on the Lions roster, and therefore have the lowest need heading into the draft.
The Lions recorded 427 rushing attempts for 1,886 yards (4.4 average) and 12 touchdowns in 2021. It marked the first time Detroit has topped 1,800 rushing yards, 12 rushing touchdowns and maintained a rushing average of at least 4.4 yards since 1998.
I think Swift can be in the conversation for a Pro Bowl bid in 2022. Jamaal Williams is a strong runner and the perfect thunder to Swift's lightning. Backups Godwin Igwebuike, Craig Reynolds and Jermar Jefferson all showed big-play potential when given their opportunities to play. I don't see the Lions drafting a running back this year.
20man: The Lions are hoping they are never eligible to be on the show again, but the team is going to embrace the opportunity. Like you mentioned, it's an opportunity to show off the culture Holmes and Campbell are trying to build. That could certainly be attractive to some players in free agency, but let's not be naïve to the fact that money and the opportunity to win are usually the two biggest factors for players when navigating free agency.
If the Lions are able to win some more games this year, and show off an energetic, authentic, fun and competitive environment on 'Hard Knocks,' that could help.
"In all fairness, I'd rather not be eligible to be on it, but since we are, we're going to embrace it," Lions team president Rod Wood said at owners meetings right after the announcement was made official. "I think it'll be a good way to build some momentum heading into the season and hopefully give our fans a behind-the-scenes look that otherwise is very difficult to provide."
20man: That's a good one, Gino. That would be huge for the Lions secondary, especially with the emergence of Amani Oruwariye last season as a No. 1-caliber corner, and the depth they have assembled at the position with Mike Hughes, Jerry Jacobs, Ifeatu Melifonwu, AJ Parker and others.
For me, I'm going with Swift. If he can stay healthy and play an entire season, I think he's set up to have a monster season running behind this offensive line and getting a ton of 1-on-1 matchups in the passing game because of the weapons the Lions have added and could still add at the other skill positions. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Swift is over 1,500 total yards and in the Pro Bowl conversation.