NEEDS RATING KEY
5.0 - High priority. This is a position that is a glaring weakness and there is the likelihood that this team cannot compete next year without making a major addition here.
4.0 - Medium Priority. This is an area that is an obvious weakness, but the team isn't quite desperate to make a major move here possibly because they have some young potential. But this is an area that if the team cannot fix via free agency, will definitely use one of their picks in the first three or four rounds to supplement.
3.0 - Upgrade Potential. This is a position that isn't a weakness per se, but there is significant room for an upgrade. If the right player comes along they will certainly snag him, but if they don't fix this position with a major free agent addition or early round pick, then it's not the end of the world.
2.0 - Depth Need. An area where there is a need to add depth. Perhaps there is an aging veteran and they might want to start to look at grooming his heir apparent or replacement. Not likely to be a high priority and a position that more than likely will be address in the middle and late rounds rather than with a top pick.
1.0 - Future Need. This is an area that is not a priority, and doesn't initially appear as a need. But there is some room to develop some depth for perhaps two or more years down the line. This is usually an area that a team will look at in the late rounds if at all.
0.0 - Non-need. This is a position that is a strength of their team, they have a solid starter, capable depth, and/or a young player at the position that they like and want to develop. Very little possibility this area is addressed and would be the equivalent of a wasted draft pick.
Top 7 Needs
1. LB - 4.0
2. CB - 4.0
3. OT - 3.5
4. S - 3.0
5. RB - 2.5
6. OG - 2.0
7. WR - 2.0
Position by Position Breakdown
Quarterback - The two questions here are: (1) Will Drew Stanton be re-signed? and (2) Are the Lions overly concerned with Stafford's durability? The answer to question one is probably yes, although that could tie into question two. If the Lions are worried about Stafford's durability to a point where they are willing to draft some middle or late round insurance, then it makes sense for them to dump Stanton to clear room for that player. Stafford has had several shoulder injuries since joining the Lions, and despite playing well when he's been on the field, there is enough cause for concern to believe he may never be the durable and reliable enough starter to get them where they want to be. But more than likely, the Lions will probably bring back Stanton and maintain the status quo for at least another year. NEED: 0.5
Running Back - Jahvid Best hasn't had as many explosive plays running the ball as he has had in the passing game this year, which should give the Lions cause to believe that he is only going to be a complementary back. That leaves the Lions in a predicament of having a wealth of third down backs (Morris and Aaron Brown as well) and nobody to tote the rock on first and second down. So a veteran like Cedric Benson or Ronnie Brown might be a good fit for the Lions in free agency. But they could also try and get help in the draft, although it's likely to have to wait until the middle rounds since they've already invested quite a bit in Best and want to give him more opportunities in the future. NEED: 2.5
Fullback - Jerome Felton is a serviceable starter that the Lions may want to give another year to develop, but it seems likely they'll bring in somebody to push him for his roster spot. NEED: 1.5
Wide Receiver - Calvin Johnson is great, and Nate Burleson is a decent No. 2 option. But they have a need to find a third option in the passing game as Bryant Johnson and Derrick Williams have thus far been major disappointments. They'll likely try and some depth here in the middle rounds of the draft. NEED: 2.0
Tight End - Brandon Pettigrew has stepped up his game this year, but Tony Schleffer hasn't been quite the addition they hoped he would be. He's a free agent after the season, and could return if the price is right, but they won't bend over backwards for him. The question will be if he walks, will they go out of their way to replace him with another capable tight end or will they put the onus on filling that void on the receiver they are likely to add. Will Heller is a capable backup, but they can find better options. NEED: 1.5
Offensive Tackle - Jeff Backus is a serviceable starter that gets the job done. The problem of course if that the injuries to Matt Stafford are coming from somewhere, and the Lions need to certainly look at their offensive line play as a major culprit. They drafted Jason Fox last year to develop as a future starter, but if they come across another good tackle prospect in this year's draft, they shouldn't hesitate to add him. Especially since Backus' contract ends after 2011. Gosder Cherilus has been average at best on the right side. He's improved enough this year to think he'll get another shot, but they need to find some serious competition for him next summer. The X-factor in all this may be Tony Ugoh, a late season pickup that could become a decent reclamation project for him if they get more out of him than the Colts did. But either way, expect at least one major addition here either to push Cherilus or to back up Backus. NEED: 3.5
Offensive Guard - Rob Sims was a nice additon to the roster in the off-season and Stephen Peterman is capable on the other side. BUt they could seek some late round depth that could push either player and try to beef up their run blocking. NEED: 2.0
Center - Dominic Raiola was considered a fixture in the middle when Schwartz first arrived, but he's shown declining skills in recent years, and the time may be ripe for the Lions to start looking to develop a replacement in the near future. A middle or late round pick that can sit for a year or two before replacing Raiola makes the most sense. NEED: 1.5
Defensive Tackle - Suh has been solid in the middle as a pass rusher, but he leaves some room to be desired as a run defender. But they have high hopes for him. And with Corey Williams and Sammie Lee Hill filling out the rotation, they have a nice young talent base to grow from. It wouldn't hurt to add another guy in the mix to try and beef up this unit, but if anything that will come in the late rounds. NEED: 1.0
Defensive End - Kyle Vanden Bosch is the leader of the unit and Cliff Avril and Lawrence Jackson have provided some pressure off the edge, giving them two young players to develop. McBride is a free agent, but has been fairly productive and could return, but he's viewed solely as a rotational player. If he doesn't return, they will probably look more at bolstering their rotation with another pass rusher to try and give them another option to develop as the heir apparent to KVB. NEED: 1.5
Linebacker - The Lions problems at this position stem from a lack of playmakers. Julian Peterson is the best of the bunch and he'll be 33 next year. DeAndre Levy has been somewhat productive, but he's battle a groin injury all year and at this point cannot be considered a reliable starter. But they like his versatility and he could move outside if they could fine an upgrade in the middle. Landon Johnson is probably the best option at the other starting position, but he's a free agent and a better backup than starter. Either way, the Lions likely will need to make at least one major addition here to find a starter on the outside. They need a playmaker here, and they don't have one yet. NEED: 4.0
Cornerback - The Lions have collected a bunch of cast-offs from other teams in Chris Houston, Alphonso Smith, Nathan Vasher, Brandon McDonald, and Tye Hill. Among that group, Smith is probably the best going forward, due to his ability to make big plays. But when Chris Houston is your steadiest starting candidate, you know there is potential for problems. They need to try and find a good solid corner, and with their high draft pick they should be able to find that player at the top of round one. But they need to make a move here because they've probably gotten by more from the quality of their pass rush than the quality of their cornerback play. NEED: 4.0
Safety - Delmas is a solid player but like Stafford looks like he may always have trouble staying healthy. The other starter is Amari Spievey, but he's a work in progress after moving from corner this summer. They definitely need to add depth here in case of more injuries to Delmas, but probably also to push Spievey to the bench. A veteran makes the most sense in free agency to solidify that strong safety spot. NEED: 3.0
Kicker - Dave Rayner has had his moments replacing Jason Hanson who ended the year with a knee injury. Rayner is a free agent, that probably merits coming back for another year to push Hanson. But at the very least this season has the Lions somewhat concerned about the future of this position. NEED: 1.0
Punter - Nick Harris isn't great, but he gets the job done and they shouldn't be overly concerned he won't be able to do that for at least a few more years. NEED: 0.5
The year's upcoming draft and the college game can be discussed here.
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