Detroit Lions Offseason Grade
RB Zach Zenner – B- Impact 4/10
CB Marcus Cooper – C+ Impact 2/10
The Detroit Lions brought back Zach Zenner, who had the best year of his career so far in a very small sample size. Marcus Cooper was mostly a depth/special teams signing, that may or may not make it out of training camp with a job.
Released/Lost in Free Agency
DE Ziggy Ansah – Impact 6/10
OL TJ Lang – Impact 7/10
CB Nevin Lawson – Impact 6/10
LB/FB Nick Bellore – Impact 3/10
DT Kerry Hyder – Impact 3/10
S Glover Quin – Impact 6/10
DE Eli Harold – Impact 5/10
TE Luke Willson – Impact 3/10
RB LeGarrette Blount – Impact 5/10
WR TJ Jones – Impact 6/10
TE Levine Toilolo – Impact 4/10
Matt Patricia is going in to year two continuing his work on making over this Lions roster. There was seemingly a purge this year of underperforming and oft injured players. Ziggy Ansah had years of 14 and 12.5 sacks, surrounded by seasons of 2 and 4 sacks due to injuries. He can’t stay on the field and the Lions saw no reason to pay him. Nevin Lawson was a starter for the team, and inside/outside versatile, but was league average. Losing him shouldn’t hurt a whole lot, and allows Teez Tabor to step up. Moving on, are other career under performers such as Eli Harold, Kerry Hyder, and Levine Toilolo. The two big losses will be T.J. Lang and LeGarratte Blount. Lang was a leader and a stout force on the interior line, and will be missed. Blount was the short yardage, big back that Patricia trusted with the ball in his hands and will be missed….maybe.
DE Trey Flowers – A Impact 9/10
CB Justin Colemam – A- Impact 8/10
TE Jesse James – B Impact 6/10
WR Danny Amendola – B Impact 5/10
RB CJ Anderson – B- Impact 6/10
WR TommyLee Lewis – C Impact 3/10
While not adding many free agents, they added some impactful ones. They replace Ansah with Trey Flowers, who may not have quite the pass rushing chops of Ansah. But, you can trust him to be on the field and is a more stout run defender. Justin Coleman slides right in to the Nevin Lawson role, versatile inside/outside corner with not much upside but, provides solid depth. The offensive side of the ball saw some love this offseason as well. Adding Jesse James to the TE room gives them a big man who can block well, and even catch a few passes. They will have a solid Two-TE set adding James out there. C.J. Anderson will be the big addition on offense, as he proved to still have a little left in the tank last season with the Rams. At worst, he’s a veteran leader for Kerryon Johnson to learn from, and to spell him in games to keep him fresh. And finally, adding a true slot/possession guy in Danny Amendola will help Stafford complete a few more passes this season. He immediately becomes the best route runner on the team and will be yet another veteran presence in a younger receiver room.
Pick 1.8 – TE TJ Hockenson, Iowa – A+ Impact 9/10
Pick 2.43 – LB Jahlani Tavai, Hawaii – B+ Impact 7/10
Pick 3.81 – S Will Harris, Boston College – B+ Impact 6/10
Pick 4.117 – DE Austin Bryant, Clemson – B Impact 6/10
Pick 5.146 – CB Amani Oruwariye, Penn State – B+ Impact 6/10
Pick 6.184 – WR Travis Fulgham, Old Dominion – B Impact 3/10
Pick 6.186 – RB Ty Johnson, Maryland – B Impact 4/10
Pick 7.224 – TE Isaac Nauta, Georgia – B+ Impact 4/10
Pick 7.229 – DT PJ Johnson, Arizona – C+ Impact 2/10
This is where the Lions really nailed the offseason. Many fans may not like a Tight End in the first round but, consider this: Brandon Pettigrew is the best Tight End that Stafford has ever played with. Look across the league and the best Quarterbacks have typically had great players at the TE position to lean on to make plays. Stafford finally has that. Hockenson is an exceptional blocker and a sure handed receiver who will step in day one and be a safety net for this offense. Hock, in addition to James, Anderson, and Amendola all give this offense a new look they haven’t had before. And it’s looking good. They also added to the defensive back room with Amani Oruwariye, who was my fourth ranked Cornerback. In addition to adding Will Harris, who is a top ten Safety in this draft. Oruwariye is a steal in the fifth round and should provide insurance in case Tabor doesn’t pan out. Austin Bryant is also a big defensive end that will add some pass rushing depth to this roster as well. The only pick I DIDN’T like was Jahlani Tavai out of Hawaii. That may have been a bit of a reach with Germaine Pratt, Bobby Okereke, Drue Tranquill, Mack Wilson, and Blake Cashman all still on the board. Nonetheless, the Lions had a need at the position and got their man, so who can fault them? That’s a win in their book.
I loved this offseason for Detroit and think they really took a huge step in the right direction. For the first time in Stafford’s career he has a stout offensive line, a great running game, and a Tight End to lean on to make plays. On top of that, they added dependability, durability, and potential to the defensive side of the ball. Look for Detroit to get back to some winning football this season with a good mix of young talent and veteran presence.