With 2-and-a-half months of the off-season out of the way, and only 3 weeks to go until the draft, it’s time to review Detroit’s moves so far.
The Lions re-signed Joique Bell, Kris Durham, Kevin Ogletree and Jeremy Ross. They also signed Golden Tate from the Seattle Seahawks. Bell was a definite positive coming from the 2013 season. His play, spirit and determination made him a well-earned fan favourite. His 650 rushing yards and 547 receiving yards in 2013 meant that Bush could be spotted whilst still forcing opposing defences to respect the backfield. Kris Durham had a respectable 490 receiving yards in 2013, which could keep him as Detroit’s 3rd receiver in 2014. Golden Tate was a welcome signing, making him Calvin Johnson’s best complement receiver he will have played well (and I’m including Roy Williams in that comparison). Tate registered an impressive 64 receptions for 898 yards with Seattle in 2013. Could we see Detroit have two 1000-yard receivers in 2014?
Detroit also lost Shaun Hill but signed Dan Orlovsky as a back-up QB. I know that if Stafford gets injured we’re already struggling but I always had faith in Shaun Hill. He’s always performed admirably when he’s had to step into Stafford’s shoes whereas Orlovsky always struggled. Let’s hope the situation never needs to arise in 2014.
The Lions added experience in Daryl Tapp at DE/LB. Could he be lining up on a starting defensive line that now boasts three first-round picks? Any defensive lineman that is added to Suh, Fairley and Ansah must be rubbing their hands. The Lions also added DT Corey Irvin, DT Andre Fluellen, LB Julian Stanford and DB Cassius Vaughn. Vaughn has had a decent two seasons in Indianapolis, with 96 tackles in the last two seasons and 3 picks in 2013.
The Lions has had a big overhaul on the coaching side. Jim Caldwell is now the Head Coach after leading the Ravens’ offense over the last two seasons and has 37 years of coaching experience. Teryl Austin is now the Defensive Coordinator after coaching defensive backs at three superbowl teams (’05 Seahawks, ’08 Cardinals and ’12 Ravens). Joe Lombardi is now the Lions’ Offensive Coordinator after being Drew Brees’ QB Coach for the past five seasons.
Looking forward to the draft
With certainly the skill positions on the offensive side of the ball pretty much cemented, where will the Lions look to draft come May? With Louis Delmas signing for the Dolphins, there are needs at DB and OL. The Lions don’t seem to have had a big-time DB since I don’t know when. There is speed and talent at both LB and DL but the secondary also needs the bolstering. On the offensive side, much depends on the play of Stafford. Will he be able to effectively get the ball to the parade of talent Detroit now has? Also, will 2nd and 3rd stringers be able to step up? We know there is talent in Johnson, Tate and Bush, but will guys like Bell and Durham contribute when the time comes? Look for Detroit to make a key pick at DB in the first round, but perhaps a value pick may come at either WR or RB to add depth to the offensive side of the ball.