5 positions the Lions must address this offseason
The Detroit Lions have some serious work to do this offseason. The first order of business is to hire a new general manager. If that GM decides to keep Jim Caldwell as head coach, he must then locate and acquire the personnel to prepare his team for a more competitive season in 2016. Improving the offensive line is definitely a top priority; recent developments have made wide receiver a position of interest, too. Detroit can also afford to improve in certain areas on defense.
Here are the Lions' five biggest needs heading into the 2016 season.
1. Offensive tackle
Offensive line was Detroit's biggest weakness in 2015. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was sacked 44 times, and the Lions averaged a league-worst 83.4 rushing yards per game. The best way to transform this unit would be to bring in a top-tier offensive tackle, since they could use a couple upgrades. Michael Ola isn't a long-term solution on the right side, and Riley Reiff is no world-beater on the left.
2. Wide receiver
Now that Calvin Johnson's future is in question, the Lions have to start thinking about a replacement. It will have to be a big-bodied receiver who can work the sideline, stretch the field and beat double teams. There's no one quite like Megatron, but the Lions won't miss a beat if they can acquire someone similar. Matthew Stafford already has dynamic underneath targets in wide receiver Golden Tate and running back Theo Riddick.
3. Defensive tackle
Without Ndamukong Suh, the Lions lacked a playmaker at defensive tackle. Haloti Ngata had an underwhelming impact, and Caraun Reid did not live up to preseason expectations (they combined for 4.5 sacks). Detroit could lose Ngata, Tyrunn Walker and Jermelle Cudjo to free agency this spring. If Gabe Wright, a fourth-round draft pick in 2015, isn't ready to contribute on a much larger scale next year, the Lions are going to need some help at this position.
Although the Lions have some promising talent in Laken Tomlinson at guard, they should try to find an upgrade for Larry Warford in the starting lineup. It wouldn't hurt to pick up an extra one, too, since veteran reserve Manny Ramirez is nearing free agency and will be 33 years old soon. If the Lions find starting-caliber talent at both tackle and guard this offseason, they should field a much-improved team next season.
5. Strong safety
Glover Quin is one of the most talented free safeties in the NFL (14 interceptions since 2013). If the Lions can settle on a decent starter opposite him, they will be a very tough team to beat over the top. Detroit found some success interchanging James Ihedigbo and Isa Abdul-Quddus in that role in 2015, but both players are about to reach free agency. The right signing could provide Quin with a reliable partner in crime.
Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson may be mulling retirement.