2013 NFL Offseason: Detroit Lions
Draft Grades, Season Previews, Team Needs, Free Agents
Detroit Lions (Last Year: 4-12)
2013 NFL Draft Grade: B
Please note that the overall grade is not an average of all the individual grades. Other things are taken into account like team needs and goals.
Goals Entering the 2013 NFL Draft: The Lions are the only team in the top 10 that has its quarterback position shored up. Thus, they have to build around their franchise signal-caller. Matthew Stafford must be protected, and linemen are needed more than ever in the wake of Jeff Backus' retirement. Another wideout has to be found. On the other side of the ball, a pass-rusher must be obtained to help beat Aaron Rodgers.
2013 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Lions had to address both sides of the line of scrimmage. They may have fixed one. Ezekiel Ansah has monstrous pass-rushing talent. He showcased it at the Senior Bowl, where he was coached by Jim Schwartz and the rest of Detroit's staff. Devin Taylor (No. 132) was a needed second defensive end. The Lions lost Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch, but they now have two promising prospects as replacements.
The offensive line is still in shambles, however. Detroit had to find two upgrades: one left tackle and another blocker, either a right tackle or a guard depending on where the team wanted to use Riley Reiff. It appears as though Reiff will remain at tackle because Larry Warford was taken in the third round in what I thought was a tremendous pick. However, as it stands now, Reiff, Corey Hilliard and Jason Fox are the only tackles on the roster. With Clay Matthews, Jared Allen and Julius Peppers in the division, there's a good chance Matthew Stafford doesn't make it through the 2013 season.
The Lions made some decent picks elsewhere, though they did burn a mid-rounder on a punter when one could have just been obtained after the draft. The team is definitely better now, but its No. 1 glaring issue still remains.
2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
5. Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU: B+ Grade
Finally, a good pick! I'm tired of bashing these teams. Well, OK, maybe not. But this selection makes so much sense. The Lions had a close look at Ezekiel Ansah at the Senior Bowl where he dominated the competition during the actual game. He's a great fit in Detroit's wide-nine formation, and will replace the departed Cliff Avril. He'll be instrumental in Detroit's pursuit of Green Bay in the NFC North.
Follow @walterfootball for updates.
36. Darius Slay, CB, Mississippi State: B- Grade
Darius Slay was projected to go in the first half of the second round, so the range of this pick makes sense. Cornerback was also a need, though not as great of a need as people think. Having said that, what Detroit plans on doing at left tackle is beyond me. Matthew Stafford probably won't make it through the 2013 season.
65. Larry Warford, G, Kentucky: A Grade
This is an awesome pick. Larry Warford should have been chosen near the top of the second round. He is monstrous mauler who figures to be a huge upgrade on the interior of Detroit's offensive line.
132. Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina: B Grade
The Lions had to find two defensive ends in this draft because they lost both Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch. Devin Taylor is a good fit in the wide-nine formation, and this is the right range for him.
165. Sam Martin, P, Appalachian State: C- Grade
Unlike the Vikings, Detroit actually needed a punter. But this is still a bad pick. Again, it's like selecting a kicker in the 10th or 11th round of a fantasy league. It's lazy. Solid punters can be found as undrafted free agents.
171. Corey Fuller, WR, Virginia Tech: B- Grade
I'm surprised the Lions waited this long for a receiver. I feel like there were better options than Corey Fuller, but this is still a fine pick. It's just disappointing that Detroit couldn't secure a solid No. 2 option across from Calvin Johnson.
199. Theo Riddick, RB, Notre Dame: B Grade
Reggie Bush isn't exactly the most reliable player in the league, so it's good that the Lions added some depth at running back. At the very worst, Riddick will add some punch in the return game.
211. Michael Williams, TE, Alabama: A- Grade
This is a solid pick. I thought Michael Williams would go earlier than this. Detroit got a good look at him at the Senior Bowl. The team needed some tight end depth.
245. Brandon Perburn, ILB, Florida A&M: B Grade
The Lions needed linebacker help, so this makes sense in terms of both need and draft range.
*** 2013 NFL TEAM NEEDS BELOW COMMENT BOARD ***
Detroit fans had to feel like they were reliving Groundhog Day over and over. It was the same thing each week. The team looked very good at times, but did several things to sabotage a potential victory. Jim Schwartz hasn't shown an ability to correct this issue, so he should have been fired. The Lions, however, will continue on with him for another season.
- Offensive Tackle: Jeff Backus has retired, so a new left tackle is needed. A right tackle will also have to be found if Detroit moves Riley Reiff to guard. Re-signed Corey Hilliard
- Two Defensive Ends: Only one defensive end will be needed if the Lions can retain Cliff Avril. They'll have to upgrade Kyle Vanden Bosch, who struggled in every aspect of the game this past season. He's done. Signed Jason Jones
- Two Safeties: Louis Delmas is an impending free agent, but he barely played because he was always injured. Detroit had nothing outside of Delmas at the safety position, so the front office will need to find two upgrades there if the Western Michigan product isn't brought back. Signed Glover Quin; re-signed Louis Delmas and Amari Spievey
- Cornerback: It wouldn't be an offseason if the Lions didn't need a cornerback. Chris Houston is a free agent, while Dwight "Bullet Bill" Bentley did not look good in three starts - even for a third-round rookie. Re-signed Chris Houston; signed D.J. Johnson
- Two Outside Linebackers: Justin Durant and DeAndre Levy are a couple of other free agents that Detroit will have to re-sign. Perhaps Travis Lewis will get a chance if one of them leaves, but he was just a seventh-round rookie in 2012 who barely saw the field. Re-signed DeAndre Levy
- Wide Receiver: It's Calvin Johnson, and that's it. Ryan Broyles, who looked promising, tore yet another ACL. Titus Young, meanwhile, actually tried to sabotage a potential Detroit victory by intentionally lining up in the wrong spots. Matthew Stafford won't win many games throwing to Mike Thomas, Kris Durham and Brian Robiskie.
- Right Guard: Stephen Peterman might have been Detroit's worst offensive lineman when it came to pass protection this year, which is saying a lot. He'll have to be upgraded. Eric Fisher could be picked at No. 5, which would push Riley Reiff inside.
- Running Back: It's a shame, but Jahvid Best may never play again. If that's the case, the Lions are stuck with Big Ten plodder Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell, whom they don't completely trust to carry the ball because of fumbling issues. Signed Reggie Bush
- Kicker: Jason Hanson has retired. The Lions need a new kicker for the first time in ages. Signed David Akers and Havard Rugland
- Center: A successor for Dominic Raiola should be acquired.
- Punter: Nick Harris had the seventh-worst net average among starting punters. Signed Blake Clingan
2013 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Glover Quin, S, Texans. Age: 27.
Signed with Lions
A converted cornerback, Glover Quin has starred in his new safety role over the past couple of years. He was particularly sound in 2012, so he deserves a nice contract.
Reggie Bush, RB, Dolphins. Age: 28.
Signed with Lions
Reggie Bush has managed to stay mostly healthy the past two years, which is obviously a good sign. He wasn't utilized enough this past season until the Dolphins finally realized that they should use him as a receiver on occasion. The result was Bush gaining 100-plus yards from scrimmage in three of his final four games.
David Akers, K, 49ers. Age: 38.
Signed with Lions
David Akers was notorious for blowing tons of field goals in 2012. He went just 29-of-42. On the bright side, he was 4-of-5 in the playoffs. Akers is not ranked low because he dealt with a sports hernia last year. He could easily bounce back.
Jason Jones, DT, Seahawks. Age: 27.
Signed with Lions
Jason Jones is a quality interior pass-rusher who was lost late in the year to a knee injury.
C.J. Mosley, DT, Jaguars. Age: 30.
Signed with Lions
C.J. Mosley was released by the Jaguars because he was owed about $2.5 million and didn't fit Gus Bradley's system. Mosley is a stout run-defender, but doesn't offer any pass-rushing ability.
Detroit Lions Free Agents:
Salary Cap: TBA.
Louis Delmas, S, Lions. Age: 26.
Re-signed with Lions (2 years)
Louis Delmas is one of the most talented safeties in the NFL, but he just can't stay healthy. He's missed 13 games in the past two seasons.
Cliff Avril, DE, Lions. Age: 27.
Signed with Seahawks
Cliff Avril is a relatively young, dynamic pass-rusher, but he tends to struggle in run support. He rejected a 3-year, $30 million deal last offseason.
Jason Hanson, K, Lions. Age: 43.
Jason Hanson is somehow still getting it done. He hit nearly 90 percent of his field goals this year with a couple of conversions from 50-plus.
Chris Houston, CB, Lions. Age: 28.
Re-signed with Lions
Chris Houston was torched on national television against the Falcons, but he was very solid otherwise in 2012. He surrendered just one touchdown excluding the Atlanta game.
Justin Durant, OLB, Lions. Age: 27.
Signed with Cowboys
Justin Durant has been very solid in run support for the Lions over the past couple of years. He should be limited to two downs though because he's not that good in coverage.
Sammie Lee Hill, DT, Lions. Age: 26.
Signed with Titans (3 years, $11.4 million)
Sammie Lee Hill could start for some teams, as he does a decent job of pressuring the quarterback. He just hasn't had much of a chance in Detroit because he's been behind Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Corey Williams on the depth chart.
Titus Young (Waivers), WR, Lions. Age: 24.
Claimed by Rams
There's no questioning Titus Young's talent, but he's a major head case. He started off last season by punching teammate Louis Delmas. He then sabotaged a game against the Packers by intentionally lining up in the wrong spots. And to top it off, he continued to mouth off on Twitter during the offseason, indicating that he hadn't learned his lesson. I wouldn't touch him, but there might be a coach out there who can turn him around.
DeAndre Levy, OLB, Lions. Age: 26.
Re-signed with Lions
DeAndre Levy is a big liability in run support, but he's much better on passing downs.
Gosder Cherilus, OT, Lions. Age: 29.
Signed with Colts
One of Matt Millen's busts, Gosder Cherilus is actually coming off one of his better seasons, though that still involved approaching double-digit penalties. Cherilus was OK as a blocker.
Jacob Lacey, CB, Lions. Age: 26.
Jacob Lacey started slow this season, but excelled ever since he was moved into the nickel role.
Corey Williams, DT, Lions. Age: 33.
Corey Williams should still be able to be a solid rotational lineman, but his best days are behind him. He played in only seven games in 2012.
Kevin Smith, RB, Lions. Age: 26.
Kevin Smith looked pretty good spelling Jahvid Best last year, so I'm not sure why he barely played this season. He's very injury-prone, but that shouldn't prevent him from seeing the field when healthy.
Stephen Peterman, G, Lions. Age: 31.
Stephen Peterman played well a couple of years ago, but struggled last season in terms of pass protection. Maybe he'll be able to rebound in a city.
- Amari Spievey (RFA), S, Lions. Age: 25. -- Re-signed with Lions (1 year)
- Lawrence Jackson, DE, Lions. Age: 28.
- Drayton Florence, CB, Lions. Age: 32. -- Signed with Panthers (1 year)
- Kyle Vanden Bosch, DE, Lions. Age: 34.
- Will Heller, TE, Lions. Age: 32.
- Kassim Osgood, WR, Lions. Age: 33. -- Re-signed with Lions (1 year)
- Willie Young (RFA), DE, Lions. Age: 27. -- Tendered by Lions (2nd round)
- Nick Harris, P, Lions. Age: 35.
- Jason Fox (RFA), OT, Lions. Age: 25. -- Tendered by Lions (original)
- Andre Fluellen, DT, Lions. Age: 28. -- Signed with Bears
- Corey Hilliard, OT, Lions. Age: 28. -- Re-signed with Lions (2 years)
- Dylan Gandy, C, Lions. Age: 31. -- Re-signed with Lions (1 year)
- Brian Robiskie, WR, Lions. Age: 25. -- Re-signed with Lions
- Stefan Logan, RB/PR, Lions. Age: 32.
- Pat Lee, CB, Lions. Age: 29.
2013 NFL Free Agent Positions:
QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades
2013 NBA Mock Draft - May 22
2013 Fantasy Football Rankings - May 22
2014 NFL Mock Draft - May 21
Charlie's 2014 NFL Mock Draft - May 20
NFL Picks - Feb. 3
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