SportsGuyDavid picks apart the AFC North draft class and what kind of impact they can make as a pro.
LOS ANGELES, CA — Detroit Lions
The Cleveland Browns have passed the torch of “Being The Worst Team In The NFL” to the Detroit Lions. The Lions have been declining ever since the departure of Megatron, and haven’t been able to get their momentum back. Detroit hasn't made the playoffs since 2016, which wasn't too long ago, but they have done a complete 360 degrees recently, going 6-10 in 2019. In my opinion, that was a horrible end to a season so I give the Lions a D-. There aren't too many bright spots, and in a hard division of the NFC North, it may be “Bad News Lions” for a couple years or so.
The biggest question that surrounds the Detroit Lions is, “What moves should the Lions make to step up a bottom half offense?” The run game was virtually nonexistent, being ranked 20th in the league, with not one go-to guy as the Running Back 1. LeGarrette Blount had more carries than Kerryon Johnson, (154 to 118), and Blount had only 418 yards to Johnson’s 641 yards. Blount also averaged a significant amount of yards per carry less 2.8 to Johnson 5.4. To solve this problem, the Lions added C.J. Anderson in the mix and we all know what he did for the Rams in the playoffs. Anderson rushed for 168 yards on 46 attempts, averaging 4.1 per carry and 2 TDs, which was an outstanding performance when Gurley wasn’t cutting it.
The Lions signed a total of 11 players for $160.3M through Free Agency, which is the 5th highest in the league. The biggest player the Lions signed was ex-Patriot DE Trey Flowers. Flowers is 25 years-old and signed a fatty contract, a 5-year $90M. He had a great 2018 campaign with 7.5 sacks, 57 total tackles and 2 FF, which can make an quick impact to an already Top 15 defense. Other great additions to the Lions are CB Justin Coleman, TE Jesse James, WR Danny Amendola, and S Andrew Adams. All great additions to a rebuilding team that needs all the help they can get, especially with a defense that had a turnover differential of -5.
With the draft almost a week away, the Lions have a prime spot at #8. The Lions can make a big splash or even trade down for more picks that they can also benefit from. But if I was the Lions GM, I would hope that some major names would slip. But I doubt it. With most EDGE players off the board, the best option is one of two: LB Montez Sweat, or WR/TE. The receiving core consists of Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola and Tommy Lee Lewis, and with Jesse James as the lone big name TE, the Lions might seek a TE in the draft. There are a lot of great TEs in the draft, including Noah Fant, T.J Hockenson and Irv Smith Jr. But the best defensive player available at #8 is Montez Sweat. This dude had 22 sacks in years 2017-18, and is faster than all hell. He shows bursts of a vet and can be an insta-starter in the NFL. He is definitely worth #8.
Fantasy football wise, there is a lot of potential at starting positions. You have Matthew Stafford who always has the potential to throw for 4000+ yards and 40 TDs like he did in 2011. Since then, his numbers have decreased year by year, but with Golladay bursting on the scene and Marvin Jones always a threat, he is more than capable. For the running backs Johnson, Blount and now Anderson, I’m not sure how the workload will be distributed evenly. Golladay is a great WR1 option; he put up a thousand yard season averaging 15.2 yards per catch and 7 TDs. Those numbers should continue to rise in 2019 and he should definitely be a go-to in Rounds 5-7.