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Detroit Lions February Scouting Report
James Hintz
2/24/2020

Year in review and free agency preview

QB: 2019 fantasy leaders QB Matthew Stafford 2499 passing yards, 19 TD, 5 INT, QB David Blough 984 yards, 4 TD, 6 INT, QB Jeff Driskel 685 yards, 4 TD, 4 INT.

Stafford put up those numbers in 8 games, so you can see what could have been, had he played the entire season. He probably would have approached 5000 yards and 40 TD passes, but of course we know he missed the last 8 games with a back injury. With the Lions holding the #3 pick in the upcoming draft, there is a lot of talk that QB Tua Tagovailoa could be under consideration given Stafford just turned 32 and has hurt his back two years in a row. We’ll have more time to talk about the draft in the next couple months, but my early thoughts are that if Tua is the next Patrick Mahomes, then yes you should take him. Personally, I’m not sure what Tua is going to be. He has had his own share of injury problems, and most of the time at Alabama he was surrounded with such great talent around him. With an owner and coach on the hot seat, the most likely play would seem to be the Lions hope Stafford can stay healthy for a few more years, and they trade down to the team willing to give up the most to move up and get Tua. With extra picks, they can upgrade the roster with some badly needed young talent at several positions. However, many fans are all in on Tua, even if it means he sits behind Stafford for a year, with Stafford getting traded in 2021 under this scenario. There are even some rumors about the Lions trading Stafford this spring, but those rumors seem like fake news. Backup QB Jeff Driskel will be a free agent. His running ability makes him a serviceable backup, but he was just OK in his 3 starts. The Lions will be looking for an upgrade.

RB: 2019 fantasy leaders RB Kerryon Johnson 530 total yards, 4 total TD, RB JD McKissic 438 total yards, 1 TD, RB Ty Johnson, 382 yards, 1 TD, RB Bo Scarbrough 382 total yards, 1 TD.

Johnson only played 8 games due to a knee injury and after two years doesn’t look to be a guy who can handle a workhorse role. McKissic did some damage as a receiving back but was phased out toward the end of the year. He will be a free agent but I have seen conflicting reports on him being restricted or unrestricted. It has now been over 20 years since Barry Sanders retired and the Lions still can’t put a consistent running game on the field. They will be losing starting OG Graham Glasgow in free agency, and they may release OT Rick Wagner as a cap casualty, which would mean rebuilding the offensive line yet again. Oh my. Scarbrough is one dimensional but he showed enough to get a shot at sticking in 2020.

WR/TE: 2019 fantasy leaders WR Kenny Golladay 1190 yards, 11 TD. WR Marvin Jones 779 yards, 9 TD, WR Danny Amendola 678 yards, 1 TD, TE TJ Hockenson 367, 2 TD.

WR Kenny Golladay has one year left on his rookie deal. He will likely be getting a big contract extension this offseason which will eat up some of the Lions $40 million or so of cap space they currently have, which is middle of the pack compared to the rest of the league. Golladay got banged up in week 17 but he must be fine as he was added to the Pro Bowl roster as the third alternate and he played in the game. WR Danny Amendola was set to become a free agent again, but he has already re-signed with the Lions on another 1 year deal. He had a solid year in 2019 but finding a young slot receiver in the draft would make sense. Hockenson had a typical rookie year. He must break out in 2020 to justify his status as a top 10 pick. WR Jermaine Kearse and TE Logan Thomas are set to be free agents. Kearse broke his leg in the preseason and missed the season. Maybe he gets another shot on a 1 year deal. Thomas might also re-sign; he was better than TE Jesse James but that’s not saying much.

D, K, ST: It’s safe to say CB Darius Slay is on the trading block as 2020 is the last year of his current deal. He wants a big extension and the Lions might not want to give it to him. The Lions need defensive tackle help desperately and figure to target and position in free agency and/or the draft. DT Mike Daniels and DT A’Shawn Robinson are both free agents and neither seems likely to return. Also, DT Damon Harrison talked about possibly retiring and was recently released by the Lions. There are no 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 56 yard field goal in week 17, and he will return in 2020.

Other notes:

2020 opponents:

Home: CHI, GB, MIN, NO, TB, HOU, IND, WAS

Road: CHI, GB, MIN, ATL, CAR, TEN, JAX, ARI

The Lions along with the rest of the NFC North play the NFC South and AFC South in 2020. I am expecting the road game against the Jaguars to be one of their two London games.

The Lions will draft 3rd in the first round of this year’s draft after going 3-13.

More to come in March!

End.

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