The Lions made the playoffs in 2016 which saved the job of Head Coach Jim Caldwell. The team overachieved by far but also benefitted from the poor play of Minnesota down the stretch. The Lions will need to improve their roster in order to remain in playoff contention but with Matt Stafford appearing ready to play at an elite level things are looking good for Lions fans.
Primary Needs: CB, RB, LB
Secondary Needs: OT, DE, OG
Free Agency Strategy: Expect Detroit to target either a linebacker or an offensive tackle early in free agency. Riley Reiff is a good player and with $33 million in cap space the Lions should consider resigning him. They might want to go with a cheaper option like Andre Smith however. Josh Bynes was a solid contributor for the team when healthy. Bynes appears to be a journeyman, however, and will likely be replaced by a player with a better pedigree. Manti Te’o could make sense as could Lamarr Woodley or Dont'a Hightower - the latter two of whom would be able to provide some leadership. Since the Lions need multiple players at cornerback it is difficult to see them not signing one during free agency. Players like Stephon Gilmore might be too expensive for the team given other potential needs but players like Dre Kirkpatrick and DJ Hayden would still upgrade their overall units.
Draft Strategy: At 21st overall cornerback will have plenty of value. There should be at least 1 cornerback on the board with top 10 ability and the Lions would do well to take them. Linebacker will also have some value and the team will be able to add Jarrad Davis or Zach Cunningham. Ryan Ramczyk could also be in consideration at tackle. In the second round cornerbacks like Cordrea Tankersley, Quincey Wilson, and Kevin King might still be on the board given the depth at the position this year. Raekwon McMillan would be an intriguing option at linebacker in the late second round. In the third round Kendell Beckwith would be a great value at linebacker.