Mel Kiper believes it's a key season for Lions cornerback Darius Slay. (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
Low scores for the front office and coaching prevented the Lions from moving in a positive direction in this year’s Future Power Rankings by ESPN (pay site).
The Lions are ranked No. 21 – the same spot they occupied last year.
ESPN NFL experts John Clayton, Mel Kiper, Louis Riddick and Mike Sando graded every team in five categories to create a forecast of how each might fare over the next three years.
Here are the categories, with the weight assigned to each:
*Roster, 30 percent
* Quarterback, 20 percent
* Draft, 15 percent
* Front office, 15 percent
* Coaching, 20 percent
The Lions earned an average rating of 7.8 for roster, 8.8 for quarterback and draft, 6.8 for front office and 6.6 for coaching in grading by the four experts.
“It seems Tom Brady's 2013 regular season will be a highlight reel of endless dropped throws, but it was actually Matthew Stafford who led the league in dropped passes, with a whopping 58,” Kiper says. “Stafford can be erratic, but so were his pass-catchers. I know it's called by some a luxury pick, but (Eric) Ebron was brought in as a set of sure hands in an offense that was way too top-heavy at WR/TE thanks to Megatron. On defense, the development of Darius Slay and 2014 rookie Nevin Lawson of Utah State will be absolutely crucial if the Lions want to challenge the Packers in the division, which I believe they can.”
The top three teams were Seattle, Green Bay and San Francisco. Also from the NFC North, Chicago was No. 11 and Minnesota was No. 26.