Lions Mailbag: Free agency is almost here

The franchise tag decision day is 48 hours away. Free agency will start in less than two weeks. All of those Detroit Lions questions about Ndamukong Suh and so much else will soon be answered definitively. As for your questions? Let's get to them now. As always, if you want to ask a question of the Mailbag, use the hashtag #LionsMailbag on Twitter, email me at michael.rothstein@espn.com or ask away on my Facebook page here. Now, on to this week's queries.

@mikerothstein: Not necessarily. The Lions still have bigger needs than running back and while Martin Mayhew continues to insist he'll continue with his best player available strategy, a lineman on offense or defense would certainly help. I'd expect Detroit to take a back somewhere in the draft and potentially in the first half of it. But guys like Boise State's Jay Ajayi, Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah and Minnesota's David Cobb should be around in the second or third round. The Lions still have Joique Bell and Theo Riddick, so while I'd expect Detroit to take a running back at some point, it doesn't have to be in the first round by any stretch.

@mikerothstein: Tough to say, although from my understanding of compensatory picks, it would seem less likely than in prior years. While the Lions did lose Willie Young in free agency -- and he had a strong season for the Chicago Bears -- they did gain Golden Tate and James Ihedigbo. Tate was a Pro Bowler and Ihedigbo at received consideration for it. We won't know for sure on the compensatory picks until the owner's meetings next month, but it seems less likely this season than in other years.

@mikerothstein: In a word, no. If the Lions re-sign Suh, he'll be with the franchise for a long time. His contract will make it next to impossible to trade him and the team would have no interest in doing that, anyway. Detroit has made him its top offseason priority, so he's not getting traded if he remains.

@mikerothstein: Barring a move in free agency, I would anticipate the Lions drafting a running back at some point during the three-day draft. As mentioned above, that doesn't necessarily have to be in the first round and judging by Detroit's current backs -- Joique Bell was undrafted and Theo Riddick was a sixth round pick -- you don't need to draft a running back high to have success. Of course, of the all-time leading rushers, only one player in the top 10 was not a first-round pick -- Curtis Martin. Most of those rushers came from a different time in the league. The days of the featured back are much rarer now and teams place a premium on versatility in their backs. But I'd anticipate the Lions drafting a back at some point.

@mikerothstein: Tough to say right now because he hasn't been around the facility since the end of the season and most players are really starting to dig in to their offseason workouts for the most part. Any known quantities on Kyle Van Noy's development won't show up until at least April, when the team can return to Allen Park, Michigan, to start offseason training. The Lions clearly envision him being a future piece to their defense, but his role is going to be dictated by that development.

@mikerothstein: This is an interesting question -- and one Jim Caldwell dodged at the combine last week. Surprisingly, the pieces are there to make the switch to a 3-4 if the franchise wanted to during this offseason. There are a lot of holes at defensive tackle -- Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, C.J. Mosley and Andre Fluellen are all free agents -- and some of the current ends on the roster have worked inside, notably Devin Taylor and Jason Jones. Plus, the team has good depth at linebacker and could roll out four good-to-competent starters in DeAndre Levy, Stephen Tulloch, Tahir Whitehead and Kyle Van Noy if they really wanted to. That said, the preference appears to be to remain in a 4-3 but have the option to be as multiple as possible with the defense, which could include potential 3-4 looks. There were times last season when Van Noy worked out with the defensive ends. So that versatility mentioned with the running backs could come into play here, too.