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Detroit Lions February Scouting Report
James Hintz

Year in review and free agency preview

QB: 2021 fantasy leader QB Jared Goff 3245 passing yards, 19 TD, 8 INT

The season overall for Goff was not great by any means, but at least he did finish on a bit of an upswing, which included the Lions beating Green Bay in week 18. Sure the Packers pulled some starters early, but still, the point is that Goff’s performance was better in the second half of the season. Some of that was due to HC Dan Campbell calling plays. OC Anthony Lynn was phased out and he has now left the organization which was not a surprise. Ben Johnson was promoted and is your new offensive coordinator. Unclear if Johnson or Campbell will call plays, but Johnson was credited with some of the creative looks we saw in the passing game and he could have a bright future. Backup QB Tim Boyle was on a one year deal and I suppose there could be interest in bringing him back, but it won’t be high on the list of priorities. As for drafting a quarterback, it is possible. Goff’s contract almost surely ties him to the Lions for 2022, but not necessarily beyond. Deep down I think the Lions would admit they view him as a bridge. However, it doesn’t look like there is a quarterback in this draft worth taking at 2. Detroit owns the Rams first rounder, but of course that pick is the final pick in the round, and the run on quarterbacks might be over by then. We’ll know more in the coming weeks. The Lions did coach at the Senior Bowl so they got a close look at the prospects, and they said good things about Malik Willis.

RB: 2021 fantasy leaders RB D’Andre Swift 1069 total yards, 7 total TD, RB Jamaal Williams 758 yards, 3 total TD

Swift played 13 games, and was a solid producer. I thought he might make a run at 100 receptions, but he finished with 62 as he missed time with injuries and had a lighter workload when he returned late in the year. Swift and Williams will return in 2022 and they form a nice 1-2 punch, but there is room for improvement. The Lions finished 19th in the NFL in rushing yardage, which is better than they usually do, but they still haven’t broken the Barry Sanders curse, which I believe I have mentioned here before, that they have not finished in the top half of the league in rushing yardage in any season since Barry retired. But the running game was successful at times, and the offensive line deserves their share of credit. Remember, they drafted Penei Sewell in round 1 and he looks like a cornerstone at tackle. In fact, there are no significant free agents on the offensive line, and assuming Frank Ragnow returns healthy, this line will continue moving up the ladder into a top tier unit.

WR/TE: 2021 fantasy leaders WR Amon-Ra St. Brown 973 total yards, 6 TD, TE TJ Hockenson 583 yards, 4 TD, WR Kalif Raymond 576 yards, 4 TD, WR Josh Reynolds 306 yards, 2 TD, WR Quintez Cephus 204 yards, 2 TD

The Lions appear set to have a moderate amount of cap space this offseason, and since they are still in rebuilding mode I do not expect a huge free agency splash. Maybe receiver is a position where they will look to spend some dollars. Reynolds was a nice midseason add and he is a free agent that I would expect Detroit to re-sign. Raymond is also a free agent and I am not as sure about him returning. St. Brown looked like a star over the last 6 weeks and he will be a popular pick among the fantasy experts in 2022. He could be even better if the Lions add a true number 1 receiver, and if they don’t spend big bucks in free agency, maybe they find one in the draft. Cephus missed most of the season with a collarbone injury but he will return in 2022 and should contribute. Hockenson also had injury issues and played 12 games. He will be entering year 4, and the Lions will almost surely pick up his 5th year option. But will he ever break through into the elite group of tight ends?

D, K, ST: Using the franchise tag this offseason is unlikely. The most high profile player set for free agency is FS Tracy Walker. Tagging Walker can’t be ruled out, and he had a nice season, but most people do not expect that. IDP leaguers might want to watch to see where Walker lands. The other key free agent on defense is OLB Charles Harris who had a nice 7.5 sack season. At kicker, PK Riley Patterson will have competition as PK Austin Seibert will be healthy and PK Aldrick Rosas signed a futures contract. Patterson should be the favorite. Of course we should remember that the Lions broke the record for most fourth down attempts in a season. Some of that was due to desperation, but I hope they stick with this philosophy moving forward as they become more competitive

Other notes:

2022 opponents:



The Lions along with the rest of the NFC North will play the NFC East and AFC East in 2022. I know things change quickly in the NFL, but this seems like a favorable slate of opponents. Chicago and Minnesota cleaned house, Green Bay has uncertainty, so could the Lions make a surprise run at the NFC North crown in 2022? The Lions have never "hosted" a game in Europe, they have gone as the road team in the past. With the NFC teams having 9 home games in 2022, maybe the Lions will volunteer to host in England or Germany. I also have a weird feeling Jacksonville could be the opponent in week 1. The top two draft picks whoever they turn out to be, going head to head in their debut is a potential storyline. It’s early, but I think a lot of the mocks have the Jaguars taking an offensive tackle, and the Lions taking pass rusher Aiden Hutchinson of Michigan, so the top two picks could literally go head to head.

The Lions will draft 2nd in the first round of this year’s draft after going 3-13-1, and also 32nd with the Rams’ pick which was acquired in the Matthew Stafford trade. In case you are wondering, yes I was one of the many Lions fans who was rooting for Stafford and the Rams in the playoffs.

I will be back next month as we dive into free agency and any other news.


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