Even updated as they profess to be, ESPN’s unit grades for each NFL team shows how far the Detroit Lions have to go.
By all accounts, albeit only one season in and now in a second offseason, the Detroit Lions are on the right track under the direction of general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell. But this was still a 3-13-1 team in 2021, with a young and thin roster that was greatly impacted by injuries all the way through.
The Lions had a conservative approach in free agency, favoring re-signing multiple people rather than big moves to add outside talent. That’s not to say it’s the wrong approach, it just confirms that the draft will produce the core of the team if done well.
Despite the obvious talent gap throughout last season, the Lions played hard for Campbell and his staff. The results got better late in the season.
ESPN unit grades confirm how far the Detroit Lions have to go
Mike Clay has released ESPN’s updated 2022 unit grades for each NFL team, with overall grades at the end and how the total grade is weighted (the percentages seen at the top in Clay’s tweet below). Updated suggests with free agent signings, trades and departures accounted for, and Clay’s responses in the Twitter thread reflects that’s the case.
As could be expected, the Lions come in 29th overall with a 1.2 total grade, ahead of only the Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans. With their three best grades, 3.6 for the offensive line, 3.0 for tight ends and 2.4 for running backs, it’s not shocking their total offensive grade for Detroit is 1.0 (ranked 22nd for that side of the ball). Even wide receivers, with a 1.4 grade, is better than any unit grade on the defensive side. Their 0.2 total defensive grade is dead-last.
An update after the draft should naturally boost the unit grades here, with a group of young talent to come in. But if there needed to be more evidence of how far there is to go before the Lions can be taken seriously as a contender, here it is.