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Detroit Lions March Scouting Report
James Hintz

Like most teams, the Lions have been active to kick off the new league year. As expected, they didn’t use the franchise tag. They have added 9 new players to the roster, 8 via free agency and 1 in a trade. Out of the 9 players they added, 7 are on defense. The two on offense? A backup quarterback and a new right tackle, so not many impact moves from a fantasy perspective. Let’s take a look at the latest news.

QB: Last season’s backup QB Jeff Driskel signed with Denver as a free agent, 2 years, $5 million. The Lions have decided to invest a little more in the backup spot, signing free agent QB Chase Daniel to a 3 year, $13 million deal. Daniel is a career backup who has been in the league 10 years and has started a whopping five games. But remember, last year after QB Matthew Stafford got hurt, the Lions went 0-8. In fact, your fun Lions stat of the month is that they are 6-45 since the midpoint of the 2007 season in games started by someone other than Stafford. Something worth keeping in mind when you hear from national media who think Stafford is holding the organization back. I am sure the Lions are hoping Stafford stays healthy and Daniel stays on the bench but we will see. I mentioned last month that I didn’t think the Lions would draft Tua, and there is no reason to change that opinion. In theory, even with the addition of Daniel, they could still take Tua and have him sit as the 3rd quarterback for a year. But I don’t think that scenario is likely.

RB: One move of note here was free agent RB JD McKissic signing with the Redskins, 2 years, $3.25 million. He did some nice things as a satellite back last year. With the Lions going defense heavy in free agency, they figure to look to the draft for some fresh blood on offense, and adding a running back will be a focus as they need better depth behind RB Kerryon Johnson, perhaps as early as round 2. The Lions spent big on a new right tackle in free agency (H. Vaitai) who has a reputation as a good run blocker. Vaitai replaces Rick Wagner who got released. Now they need to replace Graham Glasgow at right guard.

WR/TE: Things are pretty quiet with this position group. No word yet on an extension for WR Kenny Golladay, but that is something that will likely happen in the summer. Even after spending for some free agents, they have enough cap room to work with. The Lions re-signed WR Danny Amendola last month, and they lost TE Logan Thomas to the Redskins as a free agent. They really need to add a young receiver to the pipeline to develop behind Golladay, WR Marvin Jones, and Amendola. And I could see them adding a cheap veteran tight end to replace Thomas.

K/DST: Before you get too excited about the players the Lions added on defense, you have to take a closer look. Basically, each big name they added is replacing some the Lions released or traded, which is an indictment of the coach and GM. Let’s recap: LB Jamie Collins in, LB Devon Kennard released; CB Desmond Trufant in, CB Darius Slay traded; DT Danny Shelton in, DT Damon Harrison released; S Duron Harmon acquired in a trade, essentially replacing S Quandre Diggs who was traded last year midseason. Hard to see how this approach makes the defense better. But adding as many former Patriots as possible seems to be the only game plan this organization can come up with. Trading Slay was the most high profile move they made, and Slay predictably trashed the organization on his way out. I can’t blame him. Jeff Okudah of Ohio State is a very likely target for the Lions in round 1 of the draft.

Next month we will preview the draft and perhaps take a look at the 2020 schedule if it has been released in mid April as usual. I suppose the schedule release could be delayed. The Lions received no compensatory picks and before the Slay trade they had one pick in each round. Now they have an extra pick in round 3 and round 5.



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