The Detroit Lions didn’t sign Russell Okung. The franchise did bring back a lot of its own players, though, and as the main portion of free agency starts to settle down, the Lions roster is starting to come into pre-draft shape.
What that means for Detroit is among the questions we tackle in this week’s Lions Mailbag. To ask questions of the Mailbag, use the hashtag #LionsMailbag on Twitter, email me at email@example.com or drop a note on Facebook here.
Now, on to your questions.
@mikerothstein: This week I gave the Lions a B for free agency, mostly because spending big in March doesn't necessarily mean success in the fall. That said, I don't think they significantly upgraded any position. They did the best they could at receiver, but the Lions were never going to replace Calvin Johnson with one guy. They made a play for Okung, but I think they smartly didn't go in with what Denver offered considering his injury history. Safety is the place where I think there should be some concern, as I don't know if Rafael Bush or Tavon Wilson can be a quality starter. The one area they did upgrade was on special teams. Johnson Bademosi was a strong signing and a lot of Detroit's other moves showed a likely upgrade in coverage units. So that's a good thing for the Lions. But the roster at this point still has some concerning places.
@mikerothstein: Derrick Henry would be an interesting selection, but definitely not in the first round. If he's sitting there in the second round it could happen, but I wouldn't find it likely. If the Lions pick up a between-the-tackles back during free agency, then I'd say this thought goes away completely. Detroit has enough other issues, some of which will be covered below, that taking a running back that high might not be worthwhile. But I think you will see a combination of value and best player available from Bob Quinn's first draft, and there is a point where Henry becomes a strong value pick.
@mikerothstein: With the way free agency has gone, probably not. Marvin Jones and Golden Tate are a good starting combination at receiver, and there should be enough receiver talent that addressing the position in the second or third round (Tyler Boyd, Braxton Miller, Sterling Shepard and Kenny Lawler are names that come to mind) is plausible. I'm on record saying I think Laquon Treadwell would be an intriguing pick at No. 16, but that was also before the Jones signing and the Lions not signing a player who could be a definitive starting offensive tackle or defensive end. Now, I'd look at those two positions as possible Round 1 targets. If Treadwell is still on the board, he might be considered, but he would have to be the best value play at that position. Same with Corey Coleman, Will Fuller or Josh Doctson.
@mikerothstein: Just don't see it. Not with Haloti Ngata, Stefan Charles and Tyrunn Walker occupying decent roster space at this point. I expect the Lions to draft a defensive tackle as well, so that's probably the rotation of four at this point along with Caraun Reid working his way in there somewhere. Just don't see the room/need for Nick Fairley at this point.
@mikerothstein: The short answer is no. Most of the calls I've made on the Stephen Tulloch situation have come up empty, and I haven't been able to find many comparable situations in research I've done. Doesn't mean they aren't out there, but it is something that feels at least somewhat rare. I have some theories on what might be going on, but nothing with any reporting I feel comfortable going with behind it, so I'm not going to elaborate here. But it is definitely odd. This is definitely something Jim Caldwell will be asked about at the NFC coaches breakfast this coming week at the league's owners meetings. It will be one of many Caldwell topics since he hasn't spoken publicly since the day after the regular season concluded.
@mikerothstein: Taking offensive tackle out of it, defensive end turned from a sneaky need to a need for a starter or third defensive end as a good portion of free agency has concluded. It could be where the Lions look early in the draft as well, especially with Devin Taylor in a contract year. Defensive tackle is still a need for the future, as is wide receiver. The interior of the line needs help and cornerback, safety and linebacker are also places that could still use upgrading. Essentially the same needs as when free agency started, with different levels of intensity. Expect Detroit to draft a quarterback in the later rounds as well.