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Life without Ndamukong Suh; what the Detroit Lions must do next

Suh Miami

As predicted, Ndamukong Suh has in fact decided to take his talents to South Beach, as he has reportedly agreed to a six-year, $114 million deal with the Miami Dolphins. The question now for the Detroit Lions is where do they go from here?

You cannot replace Suh

First of all, I am not going to blow smoke and tell you that the Lions first priority should be to replace Suh with one player, because that is impossible. The All-Pro defensive tackle was not just the best player on the Lions, but one of the best players in the entire NFL. That is not something that can just be replaced.

The free agency period is crucial

The Lions’ number one priority should now be to get a deal done with free agent Nick Fairley. Fairley was the second best defensive tackle to hit the market behind Suh and the Lions cannot afford to lose both of them. I would not be surprised if he gets a huge offer Detroit now that they have officially lost Suh.

In addition, the Lions should do what they can to re-sign free agent defensive tackle C.J. Mosley. Though Fairley and Mosley are not on the same level as Suh, they can help to fill the void on defensive line.

Dominate the draft

What the Lions are able to do in free agency will dictate the direction they must take in the draft. If the Lions are able to ink both Fairley and Mosley, I think it would be wise to pass on a defensive tackle in the first round of the draft and to focus on the offensive side of the ball.

Specifically the Lions should focus on improving the offensive line. If either Andrus Peat (Stanford), Brandon Scherff (Iowa), Ereck Flowers (Miami), or T.J. Clemmings (Pittsburgh) are available at the 23rd pick, the Lions should pull the trigger.

Matthew Stafford was under pressure last season more than he would like and improving his pocket protection is crucial. In addition, the running game must improve drastically if the Lions want to improve on the offensive side of the ball. I would advise against drafting a running back in the first round, but would not be opposed to taking one in the second round or later. With Suh leaving, the defense is sure to take a step back and if the offense does not make up the slack, it could be a long season.

If the Lions are unable to sign Fairley and/or Mosley, it would be wise for them to draft the best available defensive tackle with the 23rd pick. Malcom Brown (Texas) and Eddie Goldman (Florida State) would most likely be the targets if the above scenario played out and the Lions were in need of a defensive tackle. Like I said earlier, neither of those players would replace Suh, but it may be necessary if Fairley and Mosley sign elsewhere.

Life without Suh

There is little doubt the Lions will suffer defensively because of the loss of Ndamukong Suh, but there is no reason that they cannot once again contend for a playoff spot in the 2015 season.

Matthew Stafford and the rest of the offense must improve in their second year under offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi’s system. Stafford and the offense must also prove that they can produce against good teams, something they have not done to this point of his career.

Ndamukong Suh is one of the best players in the NFL, but paying a defensive lineman $19 million per season just does not make sense. Lions general manager Martin Mayhew will have his work cut out for him as the team moves forward, but if he is able to pull the right strings, the Lions will once again be in contention in the NFC North.

What do you think?

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