Lions need help on defense and O-line as they look toward draft

The Detroit Lions -- and the rest of the NFL -- are almost a month into the new league year. A bunch of free agents have signed and now the franchise is starting to poke around the veterans in the second wave of free agency, looking for bargains on players who might end up being starters.

But a month in, where the Lions stand and what their biggest needs are become important as focus shifts to the draft and long-term building.


On roster: Matthew Stafford, Dan Orlovsky

Gained/lost: None.

Free-agency action: The Lions locked up Orlovsky pretty quickly.

Draft need: Not a top one, but general manager Bob Quinn made it clear the Lions are going to be looking at quarterbacks in this draft, probably on Day 3.


On roster: Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner, Stevan Ridley, George Winn, Michael Burton (FB)

Gained/lost: Gained -- Ridley. Lost -- Joique Bell (cut)

Free-agency action: The Lions cut Joique Bell and replaced him with Ridley. Otherwise, quiet.

Draft need: Not high considering Abdullah and Zenner’s youth. A move here on Day 3 would not be surprising.


On roster: Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, Jeremy Kerley, TJ Jones, Corey Fuller, Ryan Spadola, Corey Washington, Austin Willis.

Gained/lost: Gained -- Marvin Jones, Kerley. Lost -- Calvin Johnson (retirement), Lance Moore (unsigned)

Free-agency action: Jones was the big signing for the Lions this offseason. Kerley was a sneaky addition that could benefit special teams and in the slot.

Draft needs: Still high. Everyone is questionable after Jones and Tate, so the Lions could invest. The first round is unlikely unless it’s a value play at No. 16 (think Laquon Treadwell). Day 2 or 3 is possible.


On roster: Eric Ebron, Brandon Pettigrew, Tim Wright, Jordan Thompson, Casey Pierce

Gained/lost: Lost -- Bear Pascoe (unsigned)

Free-agency action: The Lions re-signed Wright. There could be movement here at some point.

Draft needs: Probably not, unless there’s a blocking tight end late in the draft. Pettigrew’s rehab from an ACL injury could change this dramatically over the next month.


On roster: Riley Reiff, Michael Ola, Cornelius Lucas, Lamar Holmes, Corey Robinson, Tyrus Thompson.

Gained/lost: Gained -- Holmes.

Free-agency action: The Lions were in play for some guys, but Quinn pulled back when contracts got too expensive.

Draft needs: Very, very high. The Lions will draft a tackle, probably early. It wouldn’t be surprising to see more than one drafted. They need help here.


On roster: Guards -- Laken Tomlinson, Larry Warford, Geoff Schwartz, Darren Keyton. Centers -- Travis Swanson, Gabe Ikard, Braxston Cave.

Gained/lost: Gained -- Schwartz. Lost -- Manny Ramirez (Chicago).

Free-agency action: The Lions moved on from Ramirez. Schwartz signed last week. The Lions could still be in play for a center.

Draft needs: Probably set at guard, but center is an open question. Swanson is coming off shoulder surgery and had an inconsistent 2015. Could be a second- or third-day pick.


On roster: Ezekiel Ansah, Devin Taylor, Kerry Hyder.

Gained/lost: Gained -- None. Lost -- Jason Jones (unsigned), Darryl Tapp (unsigned), Corey Wootton (unsigned)

Free-agency action: Jones has visited other teams. The Lions have done nothing here.

Draft needs: High. Shaq Lawson has been of interest to the Lions as a possible first-rounder. The Lions have 10 picks. It’s possible two could go to defensive ends. The Lions need depth, a rotational player and potentially a starter depending how Taylor is viewed.


On roster: Haloti Ngata, Tyrunn Walker, Stefan Charles, Caraun Reid, Gabe Wright, Khyri Thornton.

Gained/lost: Gained -- Charles. Lost -- Jermelle Cudjo (unsigned)

Free-agency action: The Lions re-signed Ngata and Walker and picked up Charles from Buffalo. Based on his salary, expect him to have a role in 2016.

Draft needs: High. Charles and Walker are on one-year contracts. Ngata is getting older with no guarantee beyond 2016. Reid needs to have a big year and Wright is an unknown. The Lions are looking hard at tackles as long-term stability is needed. A plethora of tackles are options between the first two days of the draft, including Alabama’s Jarran Reed, Louisville’s Sheldon Rankins and Baylor’s Andrew Billings.


On roster: DeAndre Levy, Stephen Tulloch, Tahir Whitehead, Josh Bynes, Kyle Van Noy, Jerry Franklin, Brandon Copeland, Khaseem Greene.

Gained/lost: Gained -- Franklin. Lost -- Travis Lewis (Minnesota).

Free-agency action: The Lions re-signed Whitehead, the big move here. Tulloch on Detroit’s roster is still a mystery.

Draft needs: Decent. Depending on how the board falls, it could be a first-round pick (Darron Lee, Reggie Ragland) or something later. The Lions needs to upgrade speed at the position. Figure at least one will be taken.


On roster: Darius Slay, Nevin Lawson, Quandre Diggs, Alex Carter, Darrin Walls, Crezdon Butler, Johnson Bademosi.

Gained/lost: Gained -- Walls, Bademosi. Lost -- Rashean Mathis (retirement), Josh Wilson (unsigned).

Free-agency action: Detroit was sneakily active here, signing Walls last week and re-signing Butler early on. Bademosi is listed as a corner but is a special-teams ace and that will be his primary duty barring a surprise.

Draft needs: Decent. Slay is really good. Opposite him are questions. Lawson was OK last season and needs to show improvement. Carter didn’t play at all. Walls started one season in New York but would be better off as depth. So a pick here could be useful.


On roster: Glover Quin, Rafael Bush, Tavon Wilson, Don Carey, Isaiah Johnson.

Gained/lost: Gained --Bush, Wilson. Lost -- Isa Abdul-Quddus (Miami), James Ihedigbo (unsigned).

Free-agency action: The Lions swapped their strong-safety position, bringing in Bush and Wilson in place of Abdul-Quddus and Ihedigbo. Abdul-Quddus could have returned, but Miami’s offer was substantial.

Draft needs: Somewhat necessary. The Lions are hoping Bush or Wilson can start at strong safety but it is a position where a young upgrade could work. Johnson has some talent, but is largely unknown. Don’t be surprised if the Lions look here on Day 2 of the draft.