Since the departure of Louis Delmas at the safety position and Nate Burleson at wide receiver, you cannot help but wonder how the Lions will fill those holes during the offseason.
Lions’ offseason checklist:
1. Address the secondary
2. Address the receiving corp
3. Extend Ndamukong Suh’s deal to free up cap space
So where should we start?
The first thing we need to understand is the motto ‘Defense Wins Championships.’ Seattle demonstrated that earlier this month in Super Bowl XLVIII.
This brings us to the Lions’ first objective of addressing the secondary.
In the 2013 offseason, the Lions signed safety Glover Quinn in order to strengthen their backfield and add stability and experience to the young secondary. Coming back defensively next year according to their contracts are Quinn, Chris Houston, Bill Bentley, Jonte Green, Chris Greenwood, Darius Slay and hopefully Rashean Mathis.
Mathis proved himself last year to be a player to receive a second look in the evaluation of his return. Bentley, Green, Greenwood and Slay did not start out the 2013 season as well as some may had hoped, but by the end of the season their play started trending upwards despite their injuries and lack of consistency.
Chris Houston however, just came off the worst season of his career being benched more than once during the season. The development of the young corners now comes down to the new coaching staff of newly appointed defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.
With all of these developmental issues, injuries and inexperience, Detroit still yearns for a lockdown corner and a rangy safety that can cover the deep ball and make plays in the run game. Something we could sometimes expect out of Delmas if he was not nursing his knees. Since Delmas is gone, the Lions must now find a safety and a corner in the offseason whether that be through the draft or through free agency.
In free agency the list of safeties is very unappealing, featuring players that will not exactly fit the bill. Thus, they look towards the draft.
In the 2014 draft there are a couple of prospects that seem to be what the Lions are looking for.
Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, whose pro-style defensive IQ, deep ball skills and great awareness gives NFL scouts nothing to ha-ha about.
Louisville’s punishing standout safety Calvin Pryor is said to be one of the most complete safeties in the draft.
Deone Bucannon is a hard hitting safety out of Washington State.
If the Lions want to address the secondary it would be best for them to draft one of these gentlemen to fill the hole, but the secondary is not the only portion of the team with holes.
The Detroit Lions have the greatest receiver of all-time in future Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson, and catching the ball right along side him is…(cue the crickets)…nobody.
We all have to admit we like Kris Durham and his ability to stretch out for the first down, but he is not the type of receiver the Lions should want to call the number two after Nate Burleson has been released. Ryan Broyles is injury prone and lets not forget Titus Young losing his mind and ruining a decent receiving corp for the Lions just a few short years ago.
So what should the Lions do? Should they trade up eight spots and grab receiver Sammy Watkins out of Clemson? Or wait at ten and hope a quality receiver like Mike Evans or Marqise Lee is still on the board?
If the Lions had more cap space they could think about spending it in free agency on players like Jeremy Maclin out of Philadelphia or Emmanuel Sanders from Pittsburgh? Even if the Lions do a decent job in extending Suh’s contract this offseason it would cost a pretty penny to land some of these free agents.
So what would be the smartest way for the Lions to address all of their needs without wasting time and money on just one side of the ball? The Detroit Lions would benefit most from the spot they are in if they trade their pick away this May. Some may speculate why this would be a move of interest, but others would agree how rich the Lions could walk away from the draft.
There are several reasons why this could be an easy decision the Lions could make this offseason. The No. 10 pick in the draft is valued highly by other teams, especially to teams that have important needs in the draft, like a starting quarterback or a stud defensive end.
The phones ring for a reason in Radio City Music Hall, and that is because teams are willing to trade up. If the Lions trade their top ten pick, they could land multiple different packages of picks that could range anywhere from late first rounds to multiple mid-rounders. Instead of gambling on a lockdown corner at pick No. 10 or a receiver not named Sammy Watkins, the Lions could grab multiple prospects after the first round.
In the simplest form, the Lions are a good team and in order to get better they need to do a stellar patch job. This patch job could be done most efficiently with multiple draft picks.
Oh, the beauty of the draft.
Chris Boggus is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.