The Detroit Lions are a young, upcoming team that I think are just a few offseason moves away from becoming potential contenders. Players such as Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jamaal Williams, and Aidan Hutchinson are the core of this team, and they will need to build around these players. With many shining stars and a changing culture, here are five moves that I believe will transition the team from struggling to win the division to being a frontrunner of the conference.
Sign a FA Linebacker
Alex Anzalone performed above expectations this season for the Lions, racking in 125 total tackles and adding an INT. However, the linebacker room is lacking heavily and acquiring a veteran FA would strongly help their defense. With a strong FA class, big names such as Deion Jones (CLE), Lavonte David (TB), Devin Bush (PIT) and Anthony Walker Jr. (CLE) should all be guys the Lions look to acquire. Getting one of these veterans will not only make an instant impact on the field, but allow these guys to coach the young guys like Hutchinson and Okwara. Lavonte David could be a nice short-term solution, but hooking a younger guy like Bush onto a big deal could help the solution long-term.
Trade up for Will Anderson
Again, the linebacker core in Detroit is lackluster and Will Anderson is easily the best linebacker in the draft. An impact player like Anderson paired with Hutchinson could create havoc for opposing coordinators. With two first round picks in the draft this year, a trade package to move up for Anderson isn’t far fetched. I believe that if Detroit can land him, it could be a huge turning point for this defense and franchise.
Draft a DB
This draft bolsters many good players, and the DB prospects are no exception. The Lions defense killed them this year as their pass defense ranked 30th in the NFL. Utilizing the strong DB class this year is crucial to success, and I think 3 players may become prime candidates to draft to Detroit: Jordan Battle (BAMA), Christian Gonzalez (Oregon) and Cam Smith (USC). Battle is a typical safety build and has excelled with Coach Saban. Cam Smith is an ideal pass defender, who can keep up with the fastest receivers and held opposing QBs to just 71.3 QBR in his final season with the Gamecocks. My favorite candidate is Christan Gonzalez, who boasts blazing speed and a nose for the ball. Posting 4 INTs and submitted an opposing QBR of just 74 in his final season. With such a talented class, it is integral to success that the Lions draft a DB early.
If Detroit can have a good offseason, and focus on improving their struggling defense, they could be a contender in the NFC as early as next season. With an uncertain and changing NFC North, and a young prospective roster, Detroit’s time is now.