Detroit Lions March Scouting Report
Like most teams, the Lions have been active to kick off the new league year. With a deep rebuilding project getting started, there are more players leaving then there are arriving. Let’s take a look at the latest news.
QB: The big news was already covered last month with the trade of QB Matthew Stafford for QB Jared Goff. That trade became official with the new league year getting started in recent days. The Lions did some shuffling with the backup job. They floated the idea that QB Chase Daniel was available for trade. They apparently got no offers because Daniel was released shortly thereafter. The Lions signed QB Tim Boyle, formerly of Green Bay, to be Goff’s backup. It seems they will give Goff a fair chance to show that he can be more than a bridge quarterback, but at the same time if the Lions fall in love with one of the incoming rookie quarterbacks, they could certainly use the 7th pick there. With Goff in place they aren’t desperate to get a quarterback now. It would make more sense to build the roster up a bit then draft a quarterback in a year or two, especially since they have extra draft capital in 2022 and 2023 from the Stafford deal. We’ll take a closer look at this when we preview the draft next month
RB: The Lions went out and signed RB Jamaal Williams, formerly of Green Bay, to a two year deal. This should mean he will replace RB Adrian Peterson as the complement to RB D’Andre Swift. Peterson is a free agent and signing Williams probably closed the door on what was already an unlikely possibility of Peterson returning. Williams has a reputation of a guy who is solid in many areas and he has been durable in his four years with Green Bay. He is good enough to consider using a roster spot on him as a handcuff if you own Swift. Last year he had 505 yards rushing, plus 31 catches for 236 yards, as a complement to Aaron Jones.
WR/TE: Last month we talked about the decision the Lions were facing with WR Kenny Golladay – let him walk, or use the franchise tag to either keep him for a year or try to trade him. Well, they decided to let him walk, and he has signed a big deal with the Giants. The thing that could be interesting is that Golladay doesn’t have blazing speed and doesn’t always get a lot of separation. His strengths are making catches in traffic and contested catches. Stafford was a gunslinger who trusted Golladay and wasn’t afraid to fit throws into tight windows. I’m not sure if Golladay will have the same success with the Giants, but I wish him well. WR Marvin Jones has also departed, as he is going to the Jaguars. The replacements? Well, we’re talking WR Tyrell Williams and WR Breshad Perriman who both came aboard with one year deals. Remember, the Lions are rebuilding and are trying to clean up their cap, so they were never going to be handing out big long term deals. Williams missed 2020 with injuries and was released by the Raiders. His best year was 2016 when he went over 1000 yards. He has always has an impressive yards per catch, usually around 16. Perriman has bounced around the league. Detroit will be his 5th team. For now, you would have to project Williams much higher on fantasy depth charts. Drafting a receiver with the 7th pick remains a strong possibility. TE Jesse James, a colossal free agent bust in his two years here, was released. Former Saint TE Josh Hill signed. He is a blocking specialist, so TE TJ Hockenson doesn’t need to worry about losing targets. Hockenson figures to have another big year if he can develop chemistry with Goff because the receiver depth chart is still thin.
K/DST: The Lions lost PK Matt Prater in free agency to Arizona. They signed PK Randy Bullock as his replacement. On defense, not tagging Golladay meant the tag was available had they wanted to use it on DE Romeo Okwara, but that was always unlikely. The Lions ended up re-signing Okwara to a 3 year deal, so they will hope for more seasons with double digit sacks. Most significant addition on defense was picking up DT Michael Brockers from the Rams, basically a salary dump by the Rams. By my count, between releases and free agents, the Lions are losing seven players that played large roles on defense, last year, and Brockers is only one guy. There is clearly a lot of work to be done with this defense, so it is a safe bet fantasy players will be checking to see who the Lions are playing each and every week when picking their DFS lineups.
Next month we will preview the draft and perhaps take a look at any significant moves in the second wave of free agency. The full draft order was officially released. The Lions received no compensatory picks. They have an extra 3rd round pick, but no 6th or 7th rounder.
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