The Detroit Lions have been busy in 2021, making plenty of moves to re-shape their roster and try and change their future. Already, the franchise has taken plenty of steps forward in terms of upgrading some of the neediest spots on the depth chart.
Detroit is in the middle of what appears to be a full-fledged rebuild, but that doesn’t mean that the team hasn’t made some excellent moves in the meantime to keep players around and bring some talent into the mix.
The latest Lions news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lions newsletter here!
Join Heavy on Lions!
Here’s a look at breaking down some of the most improved spots on the Lions roster ahead of the 2021 season as the offseason transitions once again.
Lions Defensive Line
Additions: Michael Brockers, Alim McNeill, Levi Onwuzurike, Charles Harris, Joel Heath
Subtractions: Danny Shelton, Everson Griffen, Frank Herron
This group shapes up better than 2020 on paper already given the depth the team has suddenly created. John Penisini played a solid role as a rookie in the middle, and the team should theoretically be able to use him along with the youngsters they have already picked up. Returning is Nick Williams, Romeo Okwara, Julian Okwara, Trey Flowers and Austin Bryant. The addition of Brockers should help this group a ton, and Onwuzurike should figure to push for snaps in the middle from day one. As a whole, it’s safe to say this is one of the most improved spots on the team given the potential for the young players to come together and jell.
Additions: Quinton Dunbar, Corn Elder, Ifeatu Melifonwu
Subtractions: Darryl Roberts, Dee Virgin, Desmond Trufant, Rashaan Melvin, Justin Coleman
The Lions shook things up in a big way at cornerback, and now have the makings of a solid and affordable young group. Jeff Okudah and Amani Oruwariye return as does Mike Ford, who was re-signed this offseason. Suddenly, with the addition of Dunbar and Elder as well as Melifonwu in the draft, the corner position is looking better and better for the Lions, especially after losing some of the dead weight that has struggled the last few years. Quietly, this could be a group on the rise if Aubrey Pleasant and Aaron Glenn can work some of their magic with the youngsters.
Lions Offensive Line
Additions: Penei Sewell, Drake Jackson
Subtractions: Kenny Wiggins, Russell Bodine, Oday Aboushi
This group is most notable for what was added in the draft, given most consider Sewell to be one of the best offensive line prospects in decades. To that end, the Lions boosted this depth chart in a big way, and made a group that already looked as if it was trending in the right direction potentially elite. Adding Jackson as a UDFA could prove to be an even bigger win for depth. Coming back are key depth pieces like Tyrell Crosby, Matt Nelson, Dan Skipper and Logan Stenberg while a better season is expected for Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Add it up with the Frank Ragnow extension and this group is trending in the right direction.
Lions Wide Receivers
Additions: Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, Kalif Raymond, Damion Ratley, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Sage Surratt
Subtractions: Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, Danny Amendola, Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Hall, Jamal Agnew
It’s hard to say that wideout is improved given what was lost from the 2020 roster, but for the most part, they have been one of the most changed teams in the NFL in terms of players coming in and out. The Lions will keep Quintez Cephus in addition to getting back Geronimo Allison, who opted out of the 2020 season. Otherwise, this is a completely new group which seems to be high on speed given the Williams, Raymond and Ratley additions. Getting the players into space to make plays will be a huge focus of the new offense. Few will give this rag-tag wideout group a chance to be successful, but the opportunity does exist for players to step up and make a name for themselves.
Additions: Alex Anzalone, Derrick Barnes, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Tavante Beckett
Subtractions: Jarrad Davis, Christian Jones, Reggie Ragland
The Lions added plenty of capable players to the linebacker room to try and shift the narrative about the position, and it’s true the team has struggled in big ways the last few years. Jalen Reeves-Maybin returns after being re-signed, but the fascinating part now will be watching to see who plays where. Jahlani Tavai and Jamie Collins also return, but the pressure seems to be squarely on them given the other veterans from this group that were already purged. Losing Davis and Jones, who were good people that struggled, is football addition by subtraction.
READ NEXT: Lions Top Free Agency Fits Post-NFL Draft