2017 Detroit Lions Offseason Preview
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2016 Season Recap
You could say that Matthew Stafford and the Lions’ offense thrived even without Calvin Johnson, who retired prior to the 2016 season. Stafford passed for 4,327 yards and 24 touchdowns against 10 interceptions to go with a 71.6 quarterback rating, his highest so far in his career. He suffered a dislocated finger in Week 14 versus Chicago, though, limiting his efficiency. That obviously bothered the Lions, as they lost the next three games to close out the regular season. They made the playoffs as a wild card but were steamrolled by the Seattle Seahawks, 26-6.
Top Free Agency Needs
The Lions relied too much on Stafford that when he got hurt, it was close to a death knell for the team’s Super Bowl hopes. Detroit could have done better if it weren’t for an anemic backfield that barely contributed to the Lions’ offense that ranked 11th in passing yards but 30th in rushing. The Lions rushed the ball for just 81.9 yards per game Theo Riddick rushed for only 357 yards but was the team’s leader in that department.
Ameer Abdullah could’ve helped the team achieve some semblance of balance on offense but a foot injury suffered during Week 2 ended his season. The Lions’ current salary cap situation looks good and they could use that to lure key free agent running backs like a Le’Veon Bell, Latavius Murray, or an Eddie Lacy. Apart from the backfield, the secondary also need some depth after the Lions finished just 19th against the pass and 23rd in interceptions.
Top Draft Needs
Defensive Tackle. Detroit’s pass rush was second worst in the league in 2016, as it generated just 26.0 sacks. Kerry Hyder led the team with 8.0 sacks but the team needs more playmakers on the defensive line to prevent opposing quarterbacks from torching them on a weekly basis.
Right Tackle. Riley Reiff could leave for free agency. The same is true for Larry Walford. The team can spend money resigning both players but until that happens, the Lions should be planning as early as now in addressing this need in the draft.
Cornerback. Darius Slay and Nevin Lawson were studs for Detroit’s secondary in 2016 but the level of talent beyond those two is thin enough for the Lions to look for help in the draft.
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