As free agency starts to wind down -- at least the impact portion of it -- the Detroit Lions are going to start to focus on the NFL draft.
Who they take and what positions they are targeting are going to be the major points of discussion over the next six weeks, including in this week's Lions Mailbag, filled with your questions.
— Ryan Nestingen (@R82Nest) March 20, 2014
@mikerothstein: I do not. While the Lions are likely in best player available mode at No. 10 as long as they sign a safety before the draft, offensive tackle just doesn't seem like a spot they would go to right now. If Greg Robinson or Jake Matthews were still available at No. 10, perhaps they would consider it, but I don't think either player will be there. Detroit's main needs are still on the defense and if they have a chance to take an impact linebacker like, say, Anthony Barr, that is probably their smartest play.
— Vincent Ball (@Go_Blue33) March 20, 2014
@mikerothstein: No. Detroit will probably pick up a safety in free agency as three different ones have now reportedly visited: James Ihedigbo, Chris Clemons and Thomas DeCoud. One of those three could end up as the guy starting opposite Glover Quin for the Lions. But also expect Detroit to address the secondary through the draft with an early pick -- perhaps their first rounder if they like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Calvin Pryor, Justin Gilbert or Darqueze Dennard enough to make the move. But it still feels like a combination of both for the Lions.
Shane asks via email: With new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin coming in has he or the Lions mentioned what type of defensive they will be running most of the time? 4-3 or nickel which would make that other linebacker position a much bigger need and possibly move down the importance of a DB. Thoughts on this would be appreciated thanks.
Rothstein: I'd expect you'll see both -- probably based off of what other teams are doing with their personnel grouping. That said, it would surprise me to see more 4-3 than you did a season ago, when it felt like the Lions ran way more nickel than base defense. It is why both linebacker and the secondary are paramount needs for the Lions this offseason. Besides that they need to improve both positions no matter the defense they play, being able to have that versatility with strong players and good depth can only help in making those decisions between a third linebacker and a nickel back.
James asks over email: Since releasing Akers, why haven't the Lions explored Havard Rugland? He seemed very capable and seemed to have a high ceiling as far as kickers go. I was very disappointed when the Lions choose Akers over him, though I did understand why. But why not bring him back?
Rothstein: While the Lions do need a kicker, James, it would seem like the team is focused on other players. They have John Potter, who kicked for Washington in three games last season, and Giorgio Tavecchio under contract. They might look to bring in one more player -- either a rookie or veteran -- to join the competition. Rugland is still an intriguing prospect, though.