Detroit Lions February Scouting Report
February 2019: Year in review and free agency preview
QB: 2018 fantasy leader QB Matthew Stafford 3777 passing yards, 21 TD, 11 INT
Stafford had the worst statistical season of his career. There were a variety of issues throughout the year. By the end of the season, Stafford was dealing with a back injury and a depleted talent level at the skill positions. The thing to keep in mind moving forward though is that Matt Patricia sounds like he believes in conservative, run-based offensive approach. And I think he means it, unlike a lot of things coaches say. It’s a little surprising and disappointing to me, as everybody knows the rules favor the passing game in the NFL these days, and passing numbers are going through the roof. I would love to ask Patricia what types of offenses concerned him the most when he was a defensive coordinator. I don’t think smash mouth running attacks would be at the top of the list. Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter was let go, and Darrell Bevell was brought in. Bevell is known for his years as OC in Seattle, where they were always a strong ground team, and he will probably bring that approach to the Lions. Stafford’s fantasy value is at an all time low. He closed the season with a solid game in Green Bay where Detroit won 31-0, but many are wondering about his long term future in Detroit. His contract makes it nearly impossible to cut or trade him this offseason. Could Detroit consider drafting a quarterback in round 1? It would be shades of what the Ravens and Chiefs did in recent years. It can’t be ruled out but it is unlikely. The Lions did pick up QB Connor Cook as a developmental prospect, and QB Jake Rudock signed with Miami after spending the season on Detroit’s practice squad. Veteran backup QB Matt Cassel is a free agent. I suppose he could be offered another 1 year deal.
RB: 2018 fantasy leader RB Kerryon Johnson 854 total yards, 4 total TD, RB Legarrette Blount 485 total yards, 5 TD, RB Theo Riddick 555 total yards, 0 TD, Rb Zach Zenner 321 total yards, 3 TD.
Johnson only played 10 games as he was shut down with a knee injury. He indicated after the season ended that his recovery has gone well and he could have played had the season extended into January. His future is bright, especially with Bevell and Patricia wanting to emphasize the ground game and a conservative (aka boring) scheme. But Johnson doesn’t figure to be a true workhorse with his durability concerns. Blount ended the year with a terrible 2.7 average yards per carry. Years from now people might look back at the Lions 2018 stats and wonder why in the world he led the team with 154 carries. Blount is a free agent and is not expected back as he is probably done as a player. Riddick caught 61 passes on the year, but he seems like a player in decline. He is a possible cap casualty. Zenner impressed down the stretch. He is a free agent and he has probably earned himself a contract somewhere. Staying in Detroit would make sense as he could be as high as #2 on the depth chart.
WR/TE: 2018 fantasy leaders WR Kenny Golladay 1063 yards, 5 TD. WR Golden Tate 517 yards, 3 TD. WR Marvin Jones 508 yards, 5 TD.
Nice season for Golladay. He will be drafted much earlier in fantasy leagues in 2019. Tate was traded to the Eagles before the trade deadline. It looks like he’ll hit the open market and Detroit could have some interest in bringing him back but I think the price tag will be too high. There have been some weird vibes around Jones since the season ended, with the beat writers speculating he could be on the trade block. I guess the implication is that he might not be buying in to the Patriot way under Patricia? It’s worth keeping an eye on. Speaking of the trade block, of course sports talk radio here has been obsessed with the possibility of acquiring Antonio Brown. Undrafted rookie WR Brandon Powell had a nice 100+ yard game in the season finale, in typical Lions fashion, showing just enough to make you wonder if he could develop into a contributor. The tight end position was a mess and GM Bob Quinn admitted as much in his season wrap up news conference. This will be a priority in free agency and/or the draft.
D, K, ST: It’s safe to say DE Ziggy Ansah, who played under the franchise tag in 2018, will not be tagged in 2019. Ansah barely played because of various aches and pains and he will hit the open market. There are no other plausible candidates for the franchise or transition tag among the pending free agents on the roster. No issues with the kicking game as PK Matt Prater had another solid season which included a TD pass on a fake field goal in week 17, and he will return in 2019.
Home: CHI, GB, MIN, DAL, NYG, KC, LAC, TB
Road: CHI, GB, MIN, PHI, WAS, DEN, OAK, ARI
The Lions along with the rest of the NFC North play the NFC East and AFC West in 2019.
The Lions will draft 8th in the first round of this year’s draft after going 6-10.
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