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Ndamukong Suh's Sack List
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Detroit Lions Off Season - What's Next?

The Detroit Lions got off to a strong start with the additions of two free agents in Nate Burleson and Kyle Vanden Bosch along with a trade to acquire Corey Williams . So what is next in line for the Lions brass?

According to Tom Kowalski, in an article on Mlive.com, the Lions are backing off of free agency to an extent as they stick to their strategy. Their plan was to sign only players who will be seen as starters for the next several years. That being done, they are now only looking at younger players who might add some competition and may become a starter in the future. What they do not want to do is add stop gap players who will be gone after next year. After the draft, they will look at what positions they did not address and then look to fill them with those stop gap type of veteran players. So which positions will be looked at in the draft now?

1) Cornerback - With the release of Philip Buchanon, the Lions have put themselves in dire straits to address both of the corner back positions. The lack of any starters in that position makes the cornerback one of the most important players to draft early.

2) Defensive Tackle - Though the Lions have signed two defensive linemen, it is still a position that needs to be looked at. Sammie Hill is looked at as a good up and comer but he has yet to prove he can be a true starter. Corey Williams had two consecutive seasons of 7 sacks before being moved to defensive end where he was a sub par player. Now he should be back on the inside but he is still a bit of a question mark. Vanden Bosch may be a very good DE as he was a few years back. He needs the DTs to create some havoc for him to beat his man one-on-one. The Lions would be making a big mistake not to still draft a beast like Ndamukong Suh if he is there.

3) Left Guard - There is no doubt that the Lions need to add a good Left Guard to their offensive line. Some fans believe this is the most important position to address. Unlike many fans, I am not so down on Jeff Backus at Left Tackle anymore. I used to hate him there, but in 2009 he settled down after the first few games and played well the rest of the year. If the Lions add a good solid, steady, left guard, Backus might be fine. If the Lions do not address the Left Guard position however, they will be entering the season with basically the same line that has given up around 200 sacks in the last four years.

4) Running Back - Kevin Smith is recovering from a bad knee injury. Let's face the facts here. Smith was too slow as it was. I don't expect him to get any faster after knee surgery. Even when healthy Smith is not a RB to make a defense worry. Neither is Maurice Morris. Morris has been in the league for 7 or 8 years. If he hasn't had a big year by now he probably isn't going to. However well he played in the last few games last year, he isn't going to do that for a full season. As much as many fans love Aaron Browns speed, he is not an every down back and Schwartz is not going to give him the chance to be one. When Smith went down with an injury and the season was virtually over, that was the time to see what Brown could do. If Schwartz was not willing to find out then, I don't see him wanting to when they are still in the run early on. So the Lions absolutely need a solid RB with enough speed to hit the home runs. Without that, defenses will not respect the Lions running game and they will focus on the pass.

5) Strong Safety - Louis Delmas showed great talent at the Free Safety position, and should even be better in 2010 with another season behind him and a much better defensive line to pressure the opposing quarterbacks. The Lions need to give him a Strong Safety who will be a strong compliment.

Needing to fill six positions with only seven picks is simply asking the Lions to be too successful in their draft. They will need to fill at least one of those positions with a veteran stop gap player. The most prominent players to do that with would be one of the veteran running backs available in free agency. Particularly Thomas Jones and Ladainian Tomlinson.

Originally, Tomlinson stated that he wanted to go to a team who might contend for a ring, but since has recounted a bit and said it is more important to him to get the carries. Most fans and even most experts believe LT is finished as his last two years have not been very good. Nobody wants to consider the fact that the Chargers run blocking was horrible. Don't forget that many thought Sproles would play well and he was no better than LT. The fact that LT had double digit touchdowns in 2009 makes him an interesting addition all on itself. Even if you are not a fan and think he is finished, can you honestly believe he is not a huge upgrade from what the Lions have now?

The most intriguing of the two however would be Thomas Jones. Though he is 31 years of age, he has improved the last three years straight; running for over 1400 yards in 2009. The problem with him however is that he will likely require a much larger salary.

Either one of these backs would be a great upgrade over the Lions current players. They would come with the prestige to draw fans and sell tickets as well as memorabilia. Most importantly though, would be that they would give the Lions a RB that opposing defenses would have to respect.

Another back I can now add to this list would be Justin Fargas as the Raiders have released him earlier today. He would not command the respect which the other two would from opposing defenses, but he would still be a big improvement over the current Lion running backs and he would likely come at a much cheaper price.

So long as one of these players are available, I would expect the Lions to talk to them going into the draft. If one is willing to sign with the Lions, it will be one less position they need to focus on in this years draft.

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