ESPN’s regrade: Drop Lions to C-plus for ’17 offseason

The Detroit News

The Lions appear to have the same on-field needs this offseason as the last. Only this time they’re also looking for a head coach, though they appear to have someone in mind.

And, while general manager Bob Quinn and the Lions tried to upgrade the offensive line through free agency, the resulting running game remained stuck in the mud. It’s one reason why ESPN downgraded the Lions’ 2107 offseason from a B-minus to a C-plus in regrading every team’s offseason Tuesday (pay site).

“The Lions built their 2017 offseason around veteran offensive line additions T.J. Lang and Ricky Wagner,” Mike Sando of ESPN writes. “Both validated the investment at times, but each missed three games. For reasons that extend beyond the line, Detroit remained largely unproductive running the ball. Drafting zero running backs could have had something to do with that (the team selected one in 2016, using a seventh-round pick for Dwayne Washington).”

The Lions ranked last in the NFL in rushing, averaging 76.3 yards per game.

More:NFL’s biggest underperformers: Lions RBs rank No. 4

And, though the Lions did not draft a running back (they did snag rookie Tion Green as an undrafted free agent), they appeared to score big with linebackers Jarrad Davis (first round), wide receiver Kenny Golladay (thrid round), and Jamal Agnew (fifth round), among others, Sando writes.

“The Lions found a dynamic return specialist in fifth-round pick Jamal Agnew,” Sando writes. “They might have found a dynamic receiver for the future in third-rounder Kenny Golladay. They found a potentially solid starting linebacker in first-round choice Jarrad Davis, while corner Teez Tabor and linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin could develop into starters next season. Free-agent additions Akeem Spence and D.J. Hayden contributed.”

But, “in the end, the Lions are a team that needs to upgrade its pass-rush and running game, same as last offseason,” Sando writes.

More: Analysis: New Lions coach faces long odds for long haul