For any team that will not make the playoffs, it looks for a strong regular season push as a platform to gain momentum going into the next season.
The Detroit Lions are the poster child for that, victorious their last four games with wins against the 10-6 Tampa Bay Bucs and the soon to be Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers, albeit without Aaron Rodgers.
It has been a long road for Head Coach Jim Schwartz, and General Manager Martin Mayhew, but after two solid drafts that include now eight listed starters, Detroit will look to increase its recent draft success beginning with the 13th overall pick in 2011.
Detroit seems content on offense, with youth and talent at WR, RB and TE. However, you can never have enough good offensive lineman, particularly with a QB that has been injured each of the last two years. Using the 13th overall pick on an offensive lineman would be a viable choice as they need to develop depth and an eventual replacement for Dominic Raiola, but they may find value on the second day of the draft.
Defensively, Schwartz and Mayhew have built an impressive front seven via both the draft and free agency. Ndamukong Suh proved to be the most dominate inside presence in the NFL and DeAndre Levy, when healthy, anchors the inside linebacking corp.
Where the Lions really need to upgrade is in the secondary. Getting Safety Louis Delmas in the 2nd round in the 2009 draft was a coup, and they have tried to address the cornerback position via trades for Chris Houston from Atlanta and Alphonso Smith from Denver last year. Still, a couple of DB’s during the first two days of the draft would be well advised. With the 13th pick and Patrick Peterson being long gone, the Lions would love to have Prince Amukamara fall to them. For that to happen, Prince would have to get past Dallas and Houston, both being in the market for cornerbacks. With both Peterson and Amukamara gone, they will need to decide if Jimmy Smith, Aaron Williams, or Brandon Harris are capable of being selected that high. If not, they will look back to OL or potentially an outside backer to replace Julian Peterson or potentially look to trade down if there is a market.
Having to face the Packers and Bears is always challenging, plus they pick up the NFC South, San Francisco and Dallas in their out of division conference games. They will face the AFC West in the their out-of-conference games.