When it comes to the Detroit Lions, they’re the oldest franchise in the NFL without a Super Bowl. The Lions have become the butt of bad jokes. The Cleveland Browns were once that team in the NFL, but over the last few years, the Lions seem to be the only team that is still stuck in first gear.
Last January, the Lions traded their long time franchise quarterback Mathew Stafford to the Rams for QB Jared Goff. The trade was a mutual exchange between two franchises looking for some change. The Lions had just hired one of their own to be the new head coach. Dan Campbell was an Offensive lineman for the Lions from 2006-2008. Campbell comes in with a lot of new energy. The last head coach to leave the Lions with a winning record and lead the them to the playoffs was Jim Caldwell. Campbell is looking to do the same and beyond.
The Lions have some momentum going into the offseason after ending the year with a win but also 3-3 out of the last 6-games. Quarterback Jared Goff might be the guy to turn the franchise around, but I wouldn’t put all my eggs in that basket. Goff would unfortunately become my “Bridge” quarterback. Here are the moves the Lions should make this offseason.
2022 Free Agency
The road to a Super Bowl starts in free agency for the Lions this year. They Lions need to upgrade at a lot of positions, but adding veteran depth or a starter on the offensive line will be key. With $23 million in cap space, adding a home run lineman.
Joe Noteboom: The offensive tackle that spent this past year in LA behind Andrew Whitworth holds a lot of value. He will be a huge get for a team that could use a vet who still has something to prove. Also, there is value in a player that has recently won a Super Bowl.
Christian Kirk or DJ Chark: The Lions were without many options at the receiver position. Rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown came along towards the end of the season to become a go to target for Goff. St. Brown is one piece that will be needed to reconstruct this team for the future. In this free agency cycle I would go after a set of veteran receiver as well. Receiver Christian Kirk spent his first 4 years in Arizona. He had his best year this past season, but to say he has hit his full potential would be jumping the gun. He would be a great addition to a team that needs more veterans. Kirk isn’t a number 1, but could be a great number 2 for Goff to have in addition to St. Brown.
If Kirk resigns with the Cardinals, I would look at adding DJ Chark who spent his first few years on the Jags. Chark has ok speed and decent hands. He also would not need to be the number 1 receiver but could complement St. Brown as a number 3 receiver for the Lions. Chark would be the insurance policy if I could not get Kirk.
The draft is where things become interesting. For most veteran free agents they are looking for a places that are most likely to get them closer to a championship. For that reason, the Lions won’t be on the list for a lot of older vets that will be touching 30 years old. So the draft will be pivotal for the Lions who hold 10 picks this year.
S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
The Lions have two picks in the first round. The Lions could go with a receiver in either spot or go fix needs elsewhere. I would think the Lions add a rangy safety to like Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton. Hamilton is a tall rangy safety but physical as well. The league is getting more and more athletic at the tight end position, having a safety that can eliminate the effects the tight end has on a game can be critical. Hamilton is also quick enough to play sideline to sideline to help the corners over the top. The Lions allowed for 31 passing touchdowns in 2021, a situation that needs to be handle quickly.
DE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
Going into 2021, Thibodeaux was considered the top option in the upcoming draft. He had an ok season leading the Ducks in sacks with 7 on the year. Thibodeaux dealt with a few injuries this season, but his draft stock did not take a huge hit. Coach Campbell is a former lineman that loves a tough football team. Getting a top pass rusher like Thibodeaux could become a cornerstone of his defense for years to come. The naturally strong Thibodeaux fits perfectly like a glove.
Some of the questions that have come across about Thibodeaux is his effort and love for the game. I think those questions are overblown because the media doesn’t like athletes that have other ambitions outside of their sport. Thibodeaux on the field is a beast and doesn’t cause issues off the field. Thibodeaux might be the best value in what is considered a weak draft class.
2023 NFL Draft
The 2023 NFL Draft is what the Lions should be building up too. That class will include a few quarterbacks that could become the future of the franchise. If the Lions play it right in this years offseason, the Lions could be well on their way to turning the franchise around.