Key Defensive Position Named Lions Biggest Remaining Need

Amani Oruwariye

Getty The Lions get burned by a big pass play at cornerback.

The Detroit Lions have restocked their roster in some very important ways as the offseason has gotten started, but there are some major needs that are still prevalent on the team.

Which is the biggest, though? Recently, Bleacher Report writer Kristopher Knox put together the list for every team, and when it came to Detroit, there is still a major hole at cornerback late in free agency. That’s due in part to the team trading Darius Slay, and comes even as the Lions added Desmond Trufant at the position. As Knox concludes, the draft could be the top solution for the team as it relates to filling the need.

How is the best way to fill this need? Indeed, it could be both with a player like Jeffrey Okudah as well as another free agent, such as a Logan Ryan or the recently released Dre Kirkpatrick.

Detroit hasn’t had depth on the back end, and the best way toward truly rebuilding the secondary and solidifying this huge need could be to throw as many bodies at it as possible. Certainly, Bleacher Report is hardly the only ones to see the glaring need at cornerback.

NFL Analyst Agrees With Lions Defensive Need

Now that the first wave of free agency is done, what are the Lions biggest needs remaining on the roster? Recently, CBS Sports analyst Pete Prisco took a look at naming those needs for every team. As he said, while the Lions have done some heavy lifting on defense, much more is required.

Prisco agreed with defense and specifically the backfield, saying that he believes the Lions need help at cornerback and also along the defensive line. Here’s a look at what he wrote as to why that’s the case:

“By trading Darius Slay, they lost their best corner. But they replaced him with Desmond Trufant, so they can get by if they have to do so. Even so, another corner is needed. They also need help inside on the line. They did sign Danny Shelton and Nick Williams, but is that enough?”

In the aftermath of Detroit’s busy first week, there’s been little said about who the Lions could be targeting now. It seems a safe bet that at least one of these needs if not both will also be addressed in the draft and fairly early.

Prisco is right, however. Both do remain big holes on the team’s defense.

Lions Named NFC North Free Agency Winner

Bleacher Report already sees the team as coming out ahead. The website revealed its winners of free agency from every division, and the Lions were the choice for the NFC North. Writer Maurice Moton likes what the Lions have been able to do thus far. Here’s a look at what he wrote:

“The Detroit Lions became the New England Patriots of the Midwest this week. The team signed linebacker Jamie Collins and defensive tackle Danny Shelton, who will likely replace Devon Kennard and A’Shawn Robinson, respectively. The front office also acquired Duron Harmon via trade.

Lions head coach Matt Patricia coached two of those players when he served as the defensive coordinator in New England. Clearly, the 45-year-old lead skipper will attempt to recreate what the Patriots had during his tenure with the club.

Collins can match Kennard’s impact near the pocket and provide more to the pass defense. In addition to seven sacks, he logged seven pass breakups and three interceptions during the 2019 term.

Shelton didn’t play under Patricia in New England, but he had his best season last term, registering career highs in sacks (three) and tackles (61) as a solid run-stopper with an occasional flash near the pocket. The 26-year-old should bolster the Lions’ 21st-ranked run defense.

Harmon has developed into a versatile safety with above-average ball skills in center field. Over the last three seasons, he’s recorded 10 interceptions in primarily a reserve role, though the 29-year-old has played at least 61 percent of the defensive snaps in each of those campaigns.

At safety, Harmon could alternate snaps with Will Harris alongside Tracy Walker.

Detroit lost multiple players in free agency and replaced them with guys who know Patricia’s scheme, which is crucial for a defense that ranked 26th in scoring and allowed the second-most yards last year.

The Lions released right tackle Rick Wagner and saved $6.1 million against the cap. The front office put that cash toward Halapoulivaati Vaitai’s five-year, $50 million deal. That’s a risky investment for a four-year veteran with just 20 starts, but the 6’6″, 320-pound tackle could seal the edge for outside runs and engulf edge-rushers on his side of the line.”

Detroit has been busy in free agency thus far, and obviously, the most active of all the teams in the division. This action helps the team be able to claim themselves as the best of the best through this point of the offseason.

Lions Free Agency Signings

The Lions have reached reported free agency agreements with offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai, linebacker Jamie Collins, quarterback Chase Daniel and defensive lineman Nick Williams. Additionally, they’ve added Danny Shelton, Desmond Trufant and Jayron Kearse. They signed linebacker Reggie Ragland and Elijah Lee as well as wideout Geronimo Allison. Duron Harmon is coming in via trade. The group upgrades some important spots on the team, and will help the Lions boost the spots that are most needed for 2020. The Lions have managed to get things going quickly and effectively this offseason in free agency to be able to try and reshape their team.

It’s true the defense has been the biggest positive in terms of a remake at the spot, and that might help the team get better as a whole. It’s been a good start even if the team shouldn’t be quite done at one of the key spots on the whole roster.

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