Months after the Lions put forth a final losing effort to cap off a disappointing 2012 season, there are reasons to be positive about Detroit’s 2013 prospects. There are also reasons to be concerned. Detroit made a splash in free agency by bringing in former Kardashian Heisman winner Reggie Bush to add explosiveness from the backfield, as well as adding safety Glover Quin, re-signing CB Chris Houston, and retaining playmaking but oft-injured safety Louis Delmas. The Lions are on their way to shoring up one of the NFL’s more incompetent secondaries, but could still use a legitimate number one corner to line up opposite of Houston. The Lions own the NFL draft’s number 5 overall pick and are rumored to be considering Alabama CB Dee Milliner.
But it’s not that simple.
While the Lions took strides to make their secondary respectable, they lost out in other areas. Longtime left tackle Jeff Backus announced his retirement on March 12, while right tackle and former first-round pick Gosder “What Kind Of First Name Is That” Cherilus signed a lucrative deal with the Colts. Detroit released defensive end Kyle Vandenbosch and didn’t get the money together to re-sign stud pass-rusher Cliff Avril, who departed for the increasingly scary-looking Seahawks. The Lions did essentially swap Avril for former Seahawk DE Jason Jones, but are still looking at a vacancy opposite their new addition.
To recap, the Lions are in need of two starting tackles, a defensive end, strong-side linebacker, and a starting cornerback. That’s a lot of holes.
Drafting a potential number one corner like Milliner would finally give the Lions a secondary that could actually keep up with opposing receivers, but the glaring holes at right and left tackle are hard to overlook. 2012 first-round pick Riley Reiff is a potential replacement for Backus or Cherilus, but Coach Jim Schwartz’s public musings about shifting Reiff to guard don’t exactly speak volumes about the team’s confidence in his ability to excel at the professional level.
As far as defensive end is concerned, the Lions lack in-house candidates to start opposite newly-signed Jason Jones. Willie Young is a situational pass rusher, and there is a reason you have probably never heard of Ronnell Lewis. BYU defensive end Ziggy Ansah is yet another projected first-round pick the Lions are considering.
The bottom line is that Detroit will likely address defensive end, cornerback, offensive tackle, and linebacker in the draft. The question is which position will be determined to be the highest priority. In the end, the Lions will likely use the 5th overall pick on the player who they think has the potential to be the best NFL starter, and will then address the other positions later in the draft.
Then again, they could just take 7 receivers.