The Lions are coming off a playoff appearance last season. Making it again this season isn’t going to be easy.
That’s based on the Lions’ current roster, which according to Pro Football Focus ranks 28th out of 32 NFL teams, ESPN unveiled Tuesday (pay site).
The rosters were ranked based on Pro Football Focus metrics, and how each team currently stands.
That’s not good news for the Lions, who only rank ahead of the Cleveland Browns (No. 29; 1-15 last season), San Francisco 49ers (No. 30; 2-14), Los Angeles Rams (No. 31; 4-12), and New York Jets (No. 32; 5-11). The Lions were 9-7 last season to earn a spot in an NFC wild-card game, where they were thumped by the Seahawks, 26-6.
Pro Football Focus says it graded each player, and listed each projected starter to accompany its rankings. Of the 24 players it listed with the Lions, six received “poor” scores from the 2016 season: tight end Eric Ebron, receiver TJ Jones, guard Graham Glasgow, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, linebacker Tahir Whitehead and cornerback Quandre Diggs.
No Lions received “elite” scores. Quarterback Matthew Stafford and newly acquired guard T.J. Lang each received the highest score at 85.7. They were among eight of the 24 players who received “good/high quality” grades, joining center Travis Swanson, new right tackle Rick Wagner, cornerbacks Darius Slay and Nevin Lawson, and safeties Glover Quin and Tavon Wilson.
Left tackle Taylor Decker, out with a shoulder injury, was not among the players listed.
Pro Football Focus calls Lang their best starter.
“... (He) has developed into one of the league’s best pass-blocking guards — he didn’t allow a sack or hit for the Packers last season,” according to Pro Football Focus. “That’s good news for ... Stafford, who dropped back to pass a whopping 658 times in 2016. Lang should be an immediate upgrade.”
Though the Lions added Jarrad Davis in the first round of the NFL draft, their linebackers remain their biggest weakness according to Pro Football Focus, which includes another new addition in Paul Worrilow, who was tabbed the Lions’ weakest starter by the Pro Football Focus.