ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions ended their offseason program on June 15. Here’s a look at how they fared:
Offseason goals/grade: GM Bob Quinn wanted to revamp the team’s run game and he accomplished that by adding two of the top offensive linemen in free agency, right tackle Rick Wagner and right guard T.J. Lang. He added one of the best blocking tight ends in the league, Darren Fells. And after Taylor Decker got hurt during organized team activities, he at least gave the Lions some potential replacements in Cyrus Kouandjio and Greg Robinson. The Lions also tried to upgrade at linebacker through the draft with Jarrad Davis (first round) and Jalen Reeves-Maybin (fourth round). The team didn’t really address the pass rush and that could end up being a problem. Grade: B.
Move I liked: Taking Davis in the first round of the draft was a pretty smart acquisition. He’s a player whom the Lions liked both on field and from a character perspective. Plus, the Lions have enough confidence in him that they made him the team’s first-team middle linebacker from his first full-team practice. It was the type of safe selection -- high floor with a potentially high ceiling -- that the Lions can build their defense around for at least the next half-decade. There are still questions at the position overall, particularly with Tahir Whitehead, but bringing Davis in upped the competition level and should make Detroit better immediately.
Move I didn’t like: Avoiding a pass-rush upgrade. The Lions struggled to get to the quarterback last year and while some of that can be explained away by defensive coordinator Teryl Austin’s scheme, Detroit needs another playmaker opposite Ezekiel Ansah. They didn’t make any big moves there, waiting until late in the draft to address the defensive line and signing more of an edge-setter in Cornelius Washington. This puts a lot of pressure on Ansah, Kerry Hyder and Armonty Bryant to create pressure and sacks off the edge. If those guys aren’t able to do it, it could be another long year for the Lions defense watching pass after pass completed on them.
Biggest question still to be answered in training camp: It’s one the Lions didn’t need to worry about three weeks ago, but: Who plays left tackle? Decker is out indefinitely after right shoulder surgery and the candidate list to replace him is long: Greg Robinson, Corey Robinson, Kouandjio, Cornelius Lucas, Tony Hills and Joe Dahl. Having options is nice, but none of them instills a great amount of confidence in being able to protect Matthew Stafford's blind side. After all the draft and free-agency capital used the past three seasons to improve the offensive line, Detroit’s line once again has questions after losing one of the more irreplaceable people on the team in Decker. Greg Robinson and Kouandjio have potential that never materialized in prior stops. Can the Lions figure out how to reach one or both of them effectively? That might decide Detroit’s playoff fate.
Salary-cap space: $5,833,897 (source: Overthecap.com)
2017 draft picks: 1. LB Jarrad Davis, 2. CB Teez Tabor, 3. WR Kenny Golladay, 4. LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin, 4. TE Michael Roberts, 5. CB Jamal Agnew, 6. DL Jeremiah Ledbetter, 6. QB Brad Kaaya, 7. DL Pat O’Connor.
Undrafted rookie free agents signed: C Leo Koloamatangi, CB Desmond Lawrence, CB Josh Thornton, DE Alex Barrett, DE Jeremiah Valoaga, RB Tion Green, OT Storm Norton, TE Brandon Barnes, TE Robert Tonyan, WR Dontez Ford, WR Michael Rector, WR Noel Thomas
Unrestricted free agents signed: RT Rick Wagner, RG T.J. Lang, CB D.J. Hayden, DE Cornelius Washington, DE Armonty Bryant, DT Ego Ferguson, DT Bruce Gaston, DT Jordan Hill, DT Akeem Spence, LB Nick Bellore, LB Paul Worrilow, P Kasey Redfern, RB Matt Asiata, S Rolan Milligan, OT Tony Hills, OT Cyrus Kouandjio, WR Jared Abbrederis, WR Keshawn Martin
Restricted free agents signed: OT Cornelius Lucas
Players acquired via trade: OT Greg Robinson (from Rams).