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State of the 2024 Detroit Lions: Super Bowl window wide open after last season's breakthrough

Where does your squad stand ahead of the 约炮app season? Adam Rank sets the table by providing a State of the Franchise look at all 32 teams, zeroing in on the new faces to know, one significant fantasy spin and the stakes at play in the campaign to come.

Members of the Lions organization, Lions fans around the world and those who understand that Detroit-style pizza might actually be the best kind of pizza ...

This is such a great time to be a Lions fan. Last year in this space, we talked about Detroit's potential. But Detroit's had potential previously and, well, things didn't go so well. It's the Lions, right? Last season was truly something different. Detroit went out there and lived up to the hype. Now you're looking at a team that is considered one of the best in the NFL. Under head coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes, the Lions have done a great job with personnel decisions. They have been killing it in the draft. And now they are defending division champions for the first time in 30 years. They are bona fide Super Bowl contenders. But can they take that next step? Let's take a look.

2024 brain trust

Table inside Article
Head coach Dan Campbell
General manager Brad Holmes
Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson
Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn
Special teams coordinator Dave Fipp

Roster reshuffling

Below is a rundown of the Lions' most notable roster developments for the 2024 season, including this year's draft class, as well as key acquisitions and departures via free agency and trade.

Table inside Article
Draft class (round-pick) Key additions Key departures
Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama (1-24) Kevin Zeitler, OG Teddy Bridgewater, QB
Ennis Rakestraw Jr., CB, Missouri (2-61) Marcus Davenport, DE Josh Reynolds, WR
Giovanni Manu, OT, University of British Columbia (4-126) D.J. Reader, DT Jonah Jackson, OG
Sione Vaki, RB, Utah (4-132) Carlton Davis, CB Halapoulivaati Vaitai, OG
Mekhi Wingo, DT, LSU (6-189) Amik Robertson, CB Charles Harris, DE
Christian Mahogany, OG, Boston College (6-210) Romeo Okwara, DE
Benito Jones, DT
Jerry Jacobs, CB
Cameron Sutton, CB
C.J. Gardner-Johnson, S
Will Harris, S
Tracy Walker III, S

New faces to know

Terrion Arnold
CB · Rookie

The Lions have some talented players on the Aidan Hutchinson-led defense, but the pass D was lacking last season. So, they traded up in April鈥檚 draft to select Arnold, who had five picks (tied for sixth in the FBS), 17 passes defensed (tied for fifth) and a 50.7 passer rating allowed when targeted (fifth-lowest, per PFF, min. 60 targets) last year for Alabama. It was the kind of pick that makes you think, How did the Lions get this guy? Because 24th overall was a great value for one of the top corners in the draft. 

Carlton Davis
CB · Year 7

The Lions also traded for a veteran CB in Davis, who allowed the seventh-most receiving yards in coverage last year (776). But he led the Buccaneers with 21 passes defensed over the past two seasons. The former second-round pick has run hot and cold in his NFL career, but for real, the Lions were bad at corner in 2023. 

D.J. Reader
Detroit Lions · DT · Year 9

Signing Reader was a great move because he鈥檚 going to be an anchor in the middle of the defense against the run. But he鈥檚 also pretty good at rushing the passer. Reader had a 79.1 pass-rushing grade last season from PFF, a number I could see improving with Aidan Hutchinson by his side. It鈥檚 always amazing to see what lining up alongside a great performer can do for someone. Kind of like the way Hugh Jackman makes those around him seem like good actors -- how he carries Ryan Reynolds. (Kidding. I love Deadpool.)

State of the QB

Jared Goff was widely viewed as a throw-in when he was included in the Matthew Stafford trade back in January of 2021. I mean, the Rams didn't need him anymore. And it's fair to say Goff looked like he would be a bridge quarterback in Detroit. Then a funny thing happened: The Lions fielded a top-five scoring offense in each of the last two seasons with Goff at the helm. They have led the NFL in red zone TD percentage (65.2) and total yards per game (387.4) since 2022. They were able to keep offensive coordinator Ben Johnson around for at least another year. And now Goff has been rewarded with a four-year, $212 million extension. The team is obviously very comfortable with this indoor cat -- barring Arizona opening the State Farm Stadium roof in Week 3, Detroit won't play in the elements until a Week 9 trip to Green Bay -- and rightfully so. Goff has far exceeded his initial expectations as a Lion, and there is no reason to fear any sort of regression in the near future.

Most important non-QB

Amon-Ra St. Brown
WR · Year 4

The quarterback wasn鈥檛 the only Lions player getting paid this offseason. St. Brown agreed to a four-year, $120 million extension in April. He had 119 receptions (tied for second in the NFL), 1,515 yards (third-most) and 10 touchdown receptions (tied for fourth-most) in 2023. And for you fantasy heads, dude had a league-high nine games with at least 100-plus receiving yards, showing his consistency throughout the year. It鈥檚 reasonable to believe he'll be even better in Year 5.

My HOTTEST Lions fantasy take:

Sam LaPorta should be the first tight end off the board.

This is less of a hot take and more of a confirmation of what you were thinking anyway. Including the playoffs, LaPorta had 1,065 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns last season, just shy of Mike Ditka's all-time marks (1,076 yards and 12 TDs) for a rookie tight end. And I have to ask, how did Ditka do that on a 14-game schedule -- without a postseason appearance -- back in 1961? It's crazy. But LaPorta now must be drafted ahead of Travis Kelce. Sorry, Swifties.

2024 roadmap

Three key dates:

  • Week 1 (Sunday night): vs. Los Angeles Rams. The Matthew Stafford/Jared Goff REVENGE GAME. But wait: Why would either quarterback be mad? Stafford won a Super Bowl. Goff revitalized his career and got PAID. It's all good. Though I guess Stafford is probably still smarting from his season-ending loss at Ford Field on Super Wild Card Weekend this past January.
  • Week 9: at Green Bay Packers. The Lions have won back-to-back games at Lambeau Field. Could you consider it Ford Field West?
  • Week 13 (Thanksgiving Day): vs. Chicago Bears. Chicago will be a tough matchup for the Lions, who must finish the regular season with games against the Bears (twice), Packers, Bills, 49ers and Vikings.

For 2024 to be a success, the Lions MUST:

A) Win the Super Bowl
B) Make a playoff run
C) Earn a playoff berth
D) Finish above .500
E) Show progress

My answer: A) Win the Super Bowl. I know it might seem wild to be talking like this, but the Lions have won 22 of their last 30 games after starting 1-6 in 2022. They knocked off the Chiefs to open the 2023 campaign. They won two playoff games in January after going 31 seasons with nary a postseason victory. The last one had come against Dallas in the 1991 Divisional Round, and if you were alive back then, you remember how the Cowboys used that loss as a springboard to a dynasty where they won three of four Super Bowls. (I know kids today can't fathom this.) I don't mention that to say the Lions are about to go on such a run. My point is, Detroit's Super Bowl window is wide open right now. Time to get after it.

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