On the Clock: Detroit Lions

Through April 20, "SportsCenter" will put every NFL team "On The Clock." Scouts Inc. will break down each team and look at what questions still need answering.

The Lions have made a pretty major overhaul this offseason in an attempt to change the losing ways that have plagued this franchise for ages. As a result of their 3-13 record in 2006, the Lions have the No. 2 pick in the upcoming draft. Second-year coach Rod Marinelli drafted a building block, LB Ernie Sims, with last year's first-round pick and must find another player with not only great talent but great heart and competitiveness. Detroit has several good players but still has a lot of holes throughout the roster. Progress needs to be made this season for players to believe in what Marinelli is selling.

Key additions
Somewhat quietly, the Lions improved their roster substantially this offseason even though they didn't acquire real big-name guys. With RB Kevin Jones' future in jeopardy, Detroit sent CB Dre' Bly to Denver for Tatum Bell and George Foster, also signing T.J. Duckett. Bell and Duckett should get plenty of carries. Foster has a good chance to start at right tackle and provides an immediate upgrade. After both starting guards were released, the Lions inked Edwin Mulitalo and Zach Piller. Both are pretty solid and are a substantial upgrade over the players Detroit had at guard last season. These offensive line improvements surely will pay dividends. The Lions also signed Shaun McDonald, a player offensive coordinator Mike Martz is very familiar with, for receiver depth. Travis Fisher was signed to compete for Bly's old starting corner spot. Along the defensive line, Detroit franchised Cory Redding and signed Dewayne White, who will start and has obvious ties to Marinelli from their time together in Tampa Bay. All these were very sound additions.

Key losses
Bly wasn't a great fit in Marinelli's Tampa 2 scheme and was traded for players who should help the franchise. The Lions made a second trade by shipping disgruntled DE James Hall to the Rams. This could be a case of addition by subtraction. Safety Terrence Holt signed with Arizona, and CB Jamar Fletcher signed with Houston. The depth they provided could be missed, but neither is a difficult player to replace. Rick DeMulling signed with the Colts, but the Lions are much stronger now at guard than a year ago. Detroit released OG Ross Verba, TE Marcus Pollard, and DTs Tyoka Jackson and Marcus Bell. All can play in this league still, but they are not major losses by any means.

Remaining questions
The big mystery is what the Lions will do with the second pick. Trading down to fill several of their many needs is certainly an attractive option, but so is grabbing a player with Calvin Johnson's immense talents. They also could take one of the top two quarterbacks to replace Jon Kitna eventually and lead this franchise into the future, or they might snatch up Joe Thomas and fortify their offensive line. There are not many positions Detroit couldn't use help at, but its most glaring holes are at cornerback and middle linebacker, which probably will not be addressed until the second round at the earliest. More pass-catchers are needed, as well, as is that quarterback of the future, but like we said, just about every area of this team could be addressed in one way or another. This was a good offseason for Detroit, but the team must translate the roster moves into more victories.