It was a nice run for the Lions, a team many expected to take a downturn after reaching the playoffs in 2016. They remained in the playoff hunt until deep in December, but a nonexistent running game and issues in pass defense were just too much to overcome. Those issues are fixable ones, so what do they need to do to take the next step? Let's dive in.

2018 draft picks

  • Round 1: Detroit
  • Round 2: Detroit
  • Round 3: Detroit
  • Round 4: Detroit
  • Round 5: Detroit
  • Round 6: None
  • Round 7: Detroit*

The Lions are missing their sixth-round pick after acquiring Greg Robinson from the Rams over the summer. Robinson proved an ineffective fill-in for the injured Taylor Decker at left tackle, but the position should be less of an issue if Decker returns to form in 2018. Detroit could also wind up forfeiting their seventh-round pick, which was conditionally traded to the Bucs for Johnathan Banks at the 2016 trade deadline.

Biggest offseason needs

  • Running back
  • Center
  • Defensive linemen
  • Outside linebacker
  • Strong safety/cornerback

The Detroit offense has yet to find the right mix at running back and again sits near the bottom of the league in rushing in 2017. Theo Riddick has proven to be an effective complementary back, but Ameer Abdullah has done nothing to suggest he should be the one Riddick is complementing. Mid-round backs emerge every year in the NFL, and the Lions would do well to keep churning at the position until they finally find an answer. The offensive line should mostly be set, but center Travis Swanson is a free agent and hasn't played particularly well this year anyway.

On defense, Ziggy Ansah is a free agent and must be brought back to avoid losing a significant part of the pass rush. The team could also use an upgrade inside at defensive tackle. Jarrad Davis will man the middle at linebacker for the foreseeable future, but Tahir Whitehead is a free agent and a quality third starter should be found anyway even if he returns. Darius Slay and Glover Quin are two excellent pieces in the secondary, and while the team has solid depth behind Slay at cornerback, strong safety is an area of need. Quandre Diggs has shifted there in recent weeks, and if that's the direction Detroit goes in for 2018, cornerback becomes a greater need.

Prospects to watch

Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon 

Freeman actually resembles fellow Duck Jonathan Stewart, as both are compactly-built, balanced backs who run with power and subtle elusiveness. After an illustrious career in Eugene, the 5-foot-11, 230-pounder is ready to be a feature back in the NFL. 

Coleman Shelton, C, Washington

Shelton is taller than most centers, which could lead to some leverage issues at the next level. However, he's a proficient on-the-run blocker and has plenty of power behind his pads. 

Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA

Davenport is long, rangy defensive end with twitchy athleticism and explosiveness off the snap. He's the ultimate sleeper on the defensive side of the ball in this draft and would be a fantastic addition to Detroit's defense.

T.J. Edwards, LB, Wisconsin

Smart and relatively refined in his block-shedding ability, Edwards is ready to be a steady contributor in the NFL. He'd form a fun, youthful pairing next to Jarrad Davis for the Lions at the second level. 

Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

Oliver is a burner who'll be able to run with 95 percent of the wide receivers in the pros. His track-and-field speed limits the separation he allows, and the veteran cornerback knows what to do when the ball is thrown his way. He has 12 pass breakups on the season, and 19 in his last two years with the Buffaloes.