ESPN: Lions' offensive 'arsenal' ranks No. 18 in NFL behind 'promising' trio
The Lions appear to have the talented young pieces to help fuel its offense this season.
Running back Kerryon Johnson averaged 5.4 yards per carry as a rookie. Receiver Kenny Golladay collected his first 1,000-yard season in his second year in the NFL. Tight end T.J. Hockenson, the Lions' top pick at No. 8 overall, was considered by some to be the most complete prospect in this year's draft.
All three are 25 years old or younger.
Those young pieces, however, still don't get the Lions to the top half of the NFL in terms of offensive weapons, according to Bill Barnwell of ESPN, who on Thursday ranked Detroit No. 18 among the league's best "offensive arsenals."
That's not quite middle of the road, but the Lions do appear to be heading in the right direction. Barnwell ranked the Lions' arsenal No. 22 in 2017, and No. 21 entering last season.
"Few teams can boast a more promising top three on rookie deals than the Lions, who have running back Kerryon Johnson, wide receiver Kenny Golladay and first-round pick T.J. Hockenson taking over at tight end," Barnwell writes. "There are also caveats; Johnson's impressive rookie season was really an impressive half-season before going down with a season-ending knee injury, while the struggles of Eric Ebron in a Lions uniform are a reminder of how even highly drafted tight ends can be a dicey proposition."
Barnwell also notes the Lions' solid options when it comes to pass catchers and running backs, with the group also boasting receiver Marvin Jones Jr., and new additions in tight end Jesse James, running back C.J. Anderson and slot receiver Danny Amendola.
"The upside is certainly there," Barnwell writes, "but what pushes the Lions toward league-average in 2019 is their depth."
Barnwell's rankings focus solely on pass catchers and running backs. Quarterback, offensive line and scheme hold no bearing, he says.
The Rams top Barnwell's rankings, followed by the Chiefs.