Though their overall score fell slightly, the Lions rose from No. 21 to No. 12 in this year's NFL Future Power Rankings by ESPN.
ESPN's rankings project the overall health of NFL franchises for the next three years.
Analysts John Clayton, Louis Riddick and Mike Sando scored every team on a 0-100 scale in five categories: roster (excluding quarterback), quarterback, draft, front office and coaching.
The Lions' average score was 71.3 for roster, 74 for quarterback, 69.3 for their draft, 71.3 for front office and 73 for coaching.
The Lions' overall average was 71.9 after the following weights were assigned to each category: roster (30 percent), quarterback (20 percent), draft (15 percent), front office (15 percent) and coaching (20 percent).
"The Lions deserve credit for putting into place a winning formula built around a strong defense," Sando wrote. "The question moving forward is whether that formula remains as viable without Ndamukong Suh, whose departure affected a drop in the Lions' roster ranking (12th to 15th)."
Clayton says the Lions' younger players will have to make up for the loss of Suh: "With Suh now in Miami, the team will need the 2013 draft class to come through to minimize his loss. First-rounder Ezekiel Ansah (15.5 sacks in his first two seasons) has plenty of breakout potential this year at defensive end. Darius Slay, a second-rounder, is maturing as a corner, while RG Larry Warford, RB Theo Riddick, WR Corey Fuller and DE Devin Taylor have all been solid contributors."
The top five teams were the Packers, Seahawks, Patriots, Ravens and Steelers.
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