The Detroit Lions two biggest needs following their decision to release Louis Delmas and Nate Burleson were at wide receiver and defensive back, but they made things murkier by adding pieces to fill those needs by signing James Ihedigbo at strong safety (Glover Quin Jr. is a more natural free safety anyway, though the Lions didn’t use defined safety roles last season), re-signing Brandon Pettigrew at tight end, and then giving Golden Tate a big deal to give Calvin Johnson a very talented wide receiver to alleviate pressure off of him. Today, the Lions decided to make the move to re-sign veteran cornerback Rashean Mathis to add with bounce-back candidate Chris Houston and promising second-year pro Darius Slay.
After making the move to re-sign Mathis, the Lions are expected to go with a top wide receiver or tight end with the tenth overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft instead of adding a safety or cornerback. The defensive backfield isn’t great and a top CB like Justin Gilbert would immediately start, but it’s OK and has pieces worth believing in with Quin, Slay, Ihedigbo, and Houston as projected starters with Mathis also getting significant snaps.
The Detroit Free Press’s Dave Birkett reports that North Carolina Tar Heels tight end Eric Ebron is visiting the Detroit Lions today, and he has a strong chance of being the Lions first-round pick this year. Ebron can’t block well and has inconsistent hands, but he has ridiculous athleticism and talent with terrific agility for his size. He’s a fast, explosive athlete who fits exactly what teams look for in a new-age tight end, and he has the upside to make a big impact with Matthew Stafford, Tate, Johnson, Joique Bell, Reggie Bush, and Pettigrew in that offense.
At the same time, I think Mike Evans and Odell Beckham Jr. are superior players who also create their fair share of matchup problems as WRs, and I would rather have them than Ebron. The Lions need more WR help than TE help, because they did re-sign Pettigrew and should be high on second-year pro Joseph Fauria. Ebron is worth taking a close look at, but OBJ and Evans top my feasible wishlist for the Lions.