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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, but they haven’t made big headlines, nor have they made a blockbuster trade like they did in 2021. With the rebuilding project moving along, they are approaching things with a slow and steady attitude. Let’s take a look at the latest news.

QB: The Lions are bringing QB Tim Boyle back on a 1 year deal to presumably be the backup to QB Jared Goff again. QB David Blough also resigned, so the depth chart in 2022 looks like it will be exactly the same as it was in 2021. There is a game of musical chairs going on around the NFL with big names seemingly on the move almost every day, but the Lions are not a participant. With the extra draft capital from the Matthew Stafford trade in their pocket, I thought maybe it would have made sense to be in on DeShaun Watson, but there was nothing to indicate they even talked to Houston, which could have been an organizational decision with Watson being so toxic. Drafting a quarterback can’t be ruled out, but for now it looks like QB Jared Goff will get another year to convince the Lions he is more than a bridge guy. With an infusion of new talent at the receiver position, Goff will be expected to do a little more in 2022, but he still won’t be much of a fantasy option.

RB: Not much to report at the running back position, as the Lions haven’t lost or gained anyone at the position this offseason. The Lions have focused on resigning most of their own free agents, and the guys they haven’t re-signed aren’t drawing much interest. But at running back, the lack of moves means you’re still looking at a 1-2 punch of RB D’Andre Swift and RB Jamaal Williams. Remember, the stability also extends to the offensive line, which returns their starting five plus some key backups.

WR/TE: The only splashy move the Lions made in free agency so far is to sign former Jaguars WR DJ Chark. He will give the Lions a much needed 6’4 target on the outside. He spent 4 years with Jacksonville, where he had a breakout in 2019 with over 1,000 yards, but his production slipped a bit in 2020 and then he was injured for most of 2021. He only signed a 1 year deal, for good money, but he will be motivated to prove himself again so he can get a long term deal. I like the signing. Most of the top free agent receivers got tagged or signed extensions, so all of a sudden there weren’t that many options out there. Elsewhere, the Lions re-signed WR Josh Reynolds and WR Kalif Raymond to 2 year deals. Reynolds and Chark figure to start on the outside, with WR Amon-Ra St. Brown in the slot where he was so productive as a rookie. Raymond and WR Quintez Cephus would provide depth. With Chark only on a 1 year deal the Lions will still be looking very closely at receivers early in the draft to upgrade the overall talent level at the position which is still a long term need. The Lions signed TE Garrett Griffin, which confused me at first because I got him mixed up with Garrett Gilbert who is a quarterback. Now I realize they are different people. Griffin will be in the mix to be the backup tight end.

K/DST: As expected, the Lions did not use their franchise tag. Their best free agent was S Tracy Walker, and the Lions re-signed him to a 3 year, $25 million deal rather than use the tag. Word is the Lions will be going back to more of a four man front on defense in 2022, so pass rushers are still needed. They are bringing back Charles Harris, but they released Trey Flowers, as expected. The Lions could focus on defense in the draft, starting at the top. Aidan Hutchinson would be a perfect fit, but if he goes at number one, the Lions could pivot to Kayvon Thibodeaux.

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 three compensatory picks (round 3, 5, and 6) for free agent losses in 2021. They have multiple picks in round 1, 3, and 6, but no pick in round 4 or 7.


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