The Top Position Groups Lions Must Target for Offseason Upgrades

Brad Holmes Rod Wood

Getty Brad Holmes and Rod Wood mix it up during Lions training camp in July 2021.

The Detroit Lions are likely in the process of taking a look at their roster to determine what will be the course of action for the offseason, and while there might not be any easy answers at this point, some spots of severe need can be nailed down.

Looking at the roster, there are a few places that stick out for upgrades that will have to come fast and furiously once the proceedings begin. On both sides of the ball, major help is needed. It could be argued that special teams is the only spot the Lions are somewhat set at moving forward.

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What spots do the Lions have the biggest need at in the offseason? Here’s a look at where their top roster fixes need to come from.


Linebacker

Detroit’s group was inconsistent at best this season at linebacker, and as a result, some additions are going to have to be made during the offseason. The team transitioned to a new defense, which meant new roles for players like Jamie Collins, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Julian Okwara and Derrick Barnes. Alex Anzalone had his ups and downs as well, but was a stable force for the defense and played a big role. Collins didn’t finish the season in Detroit, while Reeves-Maybin and Okwara played a starring role for the team by the end of the season. Barnes also managed to work himself into the mix and though he had a rocky season, was essentially learning on the job at one of the toughest positions to play on the defense. Still, Barnes had his positive moments on the field as Fox 17 pointed out this year:


Derrick Barnes shows promise in loss to BengalsFox 17's Zach Harig was on the sideline at Ford Field and saw rookie Derrick Barnes make a few solid plays2021-10-18T22:30:47Z

Barnes, Okwara and Reeves-Maybin are likely to return while the jury is still out on Anzalone. The Lions need help at linebacker, and it could be a spot where they look to free agency and the draft to patch a hole. Veteran names like Kwon Alexander, Jayon Brown and Kenny Young could make sense as young players with some upside to add some beef to the group.


Tight End

Most folks understand the Lions have a player primed to be one of the top tight ends in the league in Hockenson, but he has had a few injury problems stall his progress in both 2019 and 2021. The Lions need some better depth around Hockenson in order to be able to survive the rigors of a season, and far too often, that didn’t happen in 2021. During training camp and the offseason, the Lions didn’t find a second solution until Brock Wright emerged late in the season with a few touchdowns including this Week 13 beauty:


Brock Wright first NFL TD catch against Vikings.Brock Wright first NFL TD catch against Vikings.#NFL #Vikings #Lions2021-12-08T18:52:58Z

Outside of Wright, who could stick in a second or third-string role, the Lions don’t have much depth at all, so it will be important for them to find someone who can pitch in. A moderately priced free agent comfortable in a two tight end set like Hayden Hurst or Tyler Conklin could offer the right mix of youth and experience for Detroit.


Wide Receiver

Amon-Ra St. Brown flashed signs of stardom down the stretch by setting the new rookie receiving yardage record for the Lions. It’s important to remember that minus him, the team didn’t offer much at the position most of the first half. Detroit did see Kalif Raymond become a bit of force, and he should be re-signed. Josh Reynolds has good chemistry with Jared Goff and became a major difference-maker for the team and a player who could be in the mix for a consistent role moving forward. Quintez Cephus will also be back off injury and looked good prior to it, which is important to remember.


Quintez Cephus is SmoothSubscribe to NFL: j.mp/1L0bVBu Check out our other channels: Para más contenido de la NFL en Español, suscríbete a youtube.com/nflenespanol NFL Fantasy Football youtube.com/nflfantasyfootball NFL Vault youtube.com/nflvault NFL Network youtube.com/nflnetwork NFL Films youtube.com/nflfilms NFL Rush youtube.com/nflrush NFL Play Football youtube.com/playfootball NFL Podcasts youtube.com/nflpodcasts #NFL #Football #AmericanFootball2021-09-21T00:26:11Z

Beyond that, there are question marks. Detroit only saw mixed bag production from youngsters Trinity Benson and KhaDarel Hodge, so they could certainly use a bigger ticket item in free agency perhaps paired with a semi-early draft pick. Goff needs some help to have success, so the Lions have to give it to him. Prioritizing a player like Allen Robinson in free agency and spending a first, second or third round pick on a wideout would make sense for the future and the present.


Cornerback

Detroit developed stud players from nowhere like Jerry Jacobs and AJ Parker while witnessing the continued development of Amani Oruwariye. Ifeatu Melifonwu also figures to be a big part of the future mix. Already, that offers them a shot at quality depth, but the team could need an insurance policy if Jeff Okudah and Jacobs do not return to form fast off tough ACL injuries. The ace in the hole could be the fact that Oruwariye is proving himself as a shut down option and a ball hawk already:


Amani Oruwariye Picks Off Kyler Murray to Setup Cabinda Touchdown | LIVE 12-19-21Amani Oruwariye makes incredible diving interception, returns it 50 yards to set up Lions TD Cornerback Amani Oruwariye got Detroit Lions fans out of their seats on Sunday with a perfectly timed diving interception of Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray in the third quarter. Oruwariye dove in front of Murray's short pass to receiver A.J.…2021-12-20T05:52:58Z

Even though this is the case, the team needs more depth in a big way. The draft could be a good way for Brad Holmes and Aaron Glenn to reload, and their eye with Parker and Jacobs shows they understand defensive back talent. That’s why the Lions, who commit to young players, could be in the mix to make some more savvy additions at this spot rather than shelling out big cash to any free agent.


Defensive Line

A strong offensive line is allowing Detroit optimism for the future on offense. On defense, the team needs to keep building in a similar way in order to help things along. Alim McNeill looked like a stud as a rookie, and the team will hope to see Levi Onwuzurike develop in a bigger way. Charles Harris earned his way back on the roster if he wants with a 7.5 sack performance, and Michael Brockers is a good piece to have around. Beyond that, though, help is needed in a big way. The team will have to decide what to do with veterans like Trey Flowers and Nick Williams, and also complete what could be an intriguing draft board as Mel Kiper explained:


Aidan Hutchinson or Kayvon Thibodeaux: Who's going No. 1? | NFL LiveMel Kiper Jr. joins NFL Live to discuss his Mock Draft 1.0, including why he has Aidan Hutchinson going No. 1 over Kayvon Thibodeaux. ✔️Subscribe to ESPN+ espnplus.com/youtube ✔️ Get the ESPN App: espn.com/espn/apps/espn ✔️Subscribe to ESPN on YouTube: es.pn/SUBSCRIBEtoYOUTUBE ✔️ Subscribe to NBA on ESPN on YouTube: bit.ly/SUBSCRIBEtoNBAonESPN ✔️ Watch ESPN on YouTube TV:…2022-01-19T22:51:57Z

With an early pick and a pair of elite pass rushers, the Lions could pounce quickly to fill this void with either Aidan Hutchinson or Kayvon Thibodeaux. Help outside of that might be necessary in free agency and in later rounds in the draft.

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