The Lions are ranked No. 19 on ESPN’s annual NFL Future Power Rankings (pay site).
The rankings are a forecast of success for the next three seasons, including 2016.
ESPN’s Louis Riddick, Mike Sando and Field Yates graded every NFL team from 0-100 on five categories, which were weighted according to the following percentages:
Roster (excluding quarterback) – 30 percent
Quarterback – 20 percent
Draft – 15 percent
Front office – 15 percent
Coaching – 20 percent
The Lions earned an overall score of 65.7. Their highest score was quarterback (Matthew Stafford) at 73.3. The lowest was the draft at 62.3.
“While it feels like Matthew Stafford has been in the league for a long time, he is still just 28 years old,” Yates wrote. “At times inconsistent, Stafford possesses immense arm talent and had his most efficient NFL season in 2015 (67.2 completion rate, 32 TDs, 13 INTs). Building a steady offensive line around Stafford is among the chief tasks for new general manager Bob Quinn, as Stafford begins life without Calvin Johnson.”
Riddick noted the Lions’ spotty record in the draft: “If you exclude the retired Megatron and the departed Ndamukong Suh, the Lions have drafted and developed just two players since 2005 who have made at least one Pro Bowl and are still with the team (Stafford and Ezekiel Ansah). That is not good, at all, which is why the team hired Quinn in his first go-around. Quinn had what I would describe as a blue-collar draft this year, selecting OT Taylor Decker (first round) and DL A'Shawn Robinson (second round). He has been quoted as wanting leaders who are big, tough and strong. That is a good place to start; now we need to see if they become high-level players who can consistently win.”
The Lions were No. 12 in the NFL in last year's rankings, also scoring highest in quarterback (74.0) and lowest in draft (69.3).
The top five teams in the new rankings are the Seahawks, Patriots, Panthers, Steelers and Packers.