Detroit Lions: Thomas DeCoud

If Detroit navigates the first half of its schedule and is still in playoff contention, how it fares during the second half of November could dictate the Lions' playoff fate. Back-to-back road games against Arizona and New England, followed by a quick turnaround to face Chicago on Thanksgiving, are three games against likely playoff contenders in a short stretch. It is a brutal schedule for the Lions. Survive that -- going 2-1 or better -- and the Lions could end up in the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Complete Lions season preview.
As free agency begins to hit its third week, colleague Field Yates took a look at some of the best remaining free agents available Insider and where they could potentially fit.

Hill
The one Lions player that made the list is quarterback Shaun Hill, who likely joins Mark Sanchez as the best quarterback available now that Michael Vick has signed with the Jets and Matt Schaub has been traded from Houston to Oakland. And it is possible Hill is going to be in demand, as he met with the St. Louis Rams last week. He left without a deal, and he's been in discussions with the Lions to potentially return.

That he hasn't joined either club could mean he's searching for something else as well.

Yates has the best fit for Hill to be in Chicago with an alternative fit in St. Louis. Nothing about Detroit, which would then be hunting in the sparse veteran quarterback market if it can't land Hill. Among those options could be Luke McCown, who worked with Joe Lombardi in New Orleans last season.

He also has Detroit with a best fit for a safety among his best available list, but not who one might think.

He doesn't have James Ihedigbo, who appears to be the top target for the team, on his best available list. He does have the two other Detroit targets, Chris Clemons and Thomas DeCoud, on the list and says DeCoud would fit the Lions well.

"DeCoud would represent a quality option to replace Louis Delmas, now a Miami Dolphin, and give Detroit a physical presence in the back end," Yates wrote. "He's not an overly rangy safety, but he has good ball skills when he can get to the point of the catch."

It would seem like Detroit would still be waiting on Ihedigbo, as that familiarity factor of having played under Teryl Austin in the past might play a factor in the team being more interested in him than Clemons or DeCoud.
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.

To ask questions for the Mailbag, either email michael.rothstein@espn.com or tweet with the hashtag #LionsMailbag. Now, on to your questions.

@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.

@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.
The Lions, lying in wait for the new year ...

While the Detroit Lions wait to hear from the one free agent safety who visited Allen Park, Mich., James Ihedigbo, the team is starting to look into other options to replace Louis Delmas.

According to ESPN Insider Adam Schefter, Thomas DeCoud is going to visit the Lions on Friday.

DeCoud was the No. 98 pick of the 2008 draft by Atlanta out of California. He played in 89 games for the Falcons, producing 368 tackles, 14 interceptions and three sacks. He was released by Atlanta at the start of the league year.

He made $2.5 million against the cap in 2013 and $1.9 million in cash value.

And now, a look around the Interwebs in search of Lions news:

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