NFL analysts: Lions' moves generally bring solid grades
The Lions appear to have gotten plenty of quality to go with their reported quantity Monday.
Detroit appears to have been as busy as any team Monday, the first day teams could negotiate ahead of Wednesday's first day of the free-agent signing period. In addition to officially signing slot receiver Danny Amendola — who was released last week by the Dolphins — the Lions also reportedly reached agreements with pass rusher Trey Flowers, cornerback Justin Coleman and tight end Jesse James.
And, while no one will know for sure until the new additions hit the field for the Lions and produce actual results, a sampling from analysts covering the NFL indicates that, for the most part, Detroit put in solid work.
Flowers is the biggest addition so far, checking in as one of the market's top players at a position of need for the Lions. Reportedly ready to sign a five-year deal, averaging between $16-17 million per season, the 25-year-old Flowers is coming off a 7.5-sack season with the Patriots, though he's described as a player who is consistently able to generate pressure on the quarterback.
His addition received an A from Pete Prisco of CBS Sports, an A-minus from Connor Orr of Sports Illustrated, and a B from the folks over at SB Nation.
"Flowers had 7.5 sacks last season, but he influenced the quarterback much more than that," Prisco writes. "Flowers was among the league leaders in pressures. His versatility is a calling card as well, since he can rush from both the edge and the inside."
He's also reunited with Lions head coach Matt Patricia, who was Flowers' defensive coordinator in New England, a link not lost on the analysts and experts.
"While Matt Patricia will undoubtedly spend the rest of this offseason battling the narrative that he’s trying to right his ship with the help of old Patriots players," Orr writes, "Flowers was someone who was going to stand out to a lot of coaches, and he’ll be an integral part of a front that is slowly getting better."
Coleman, who comes over from Seattle but also has New England ties, received solid grades from SB Nation (an A, both in the short- and long-term) and Prisco (B-minus).
The Lions needed a boost to their secondary and they got in Justin Coleman, who primarily plays from the slot," SB Nation writes. "According to Sports Info Solutions, Coleman allowed just 5.21 yards per attempt on passes that targeted the slot ... Detroit finished dead last in the league allowing 9.52 yards per attempt on slot targets. Pass defense reigns supreme and the Lions got a talented cornerback that fills a position of need."
Orr gave the Amendola signing a B-plus, slightly better than SB Nation, which handed out a short-term grade of B-minus, and a long-term grade of C-minus for the 33-year-old slot receiver who signed a one-year deal worth up to $5.75 million.
"We didn’t see this as much in Miami, but if Matt Patricia’s plan is to utilize more of the rub concepts that were popular in new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s Seattle scheme, Amendola is a must-have," Orr writes."I’ve often thought that, outside of sheer size or speed, there are few players who can manipulate a defense better with subtle movements and picks than Amendola. While a receiver signing in free agency is often bad news for other pass catchers on the team, Lions receivers should be quite happy. Plus, it's not going to break the bank."
Bill Barnwell of ESPN, meanwhile, tempered his enthusiasm for the aforementioned moves in handing out his grades, giving the Lions a C-plus for Flowers and Amendola, and a C-minus for Coleman.
"When you throw in the postseason, Flowers has generated 26.5 sacks on 81 knockdowns across 55 games," Barnwell writes. "Historically, pass-rushers will convert about 45 percent of their knockdowns into sacks, and if Flowers sacked quarterbacks at that rate, he would have 36.5 sacks over that three-year span. Edge rushers who underperform their knockdown totals typically regress toward the mean, and we've seen Flowers come up short only twice in three years, but the Lions are paying the former fourth-round pick like he's already the superstar those knockdowns numbers hint he will become. ...
"I don't think I can be too harsh on the Lions for making this move, though. Flowers is still young and talented enough to justify the expenditure, and the Lions absolutely, positively needed to add a top edge rusher."
He called the Coleman deal "one of the more shocking contracts from Day One of free agency." It's a four-year deal reportedly worth up to $36 million.
" ... After Coleman impressed in the slot in 2017, Pete Carroll kept him as the Seahawks' nickelback and preferred to start rookie fifth-rounder Tre Flowers on the edge," Barnwell writes. "I'd be a little anxious about Coleman's ability to take regular snaps as a sideline corner, and if he's exclusive to the slot, Coleman isn't worth $9 million per season. He also spent two seasons playing with Carroll, who might be the best defensive backs coach in the league, and Coleman won't be able to take Carroll with him to Detroit."