Detroit Lions Executive Vice President and General Manager Brad Holmes talks to the media at the 2024 NFL Combine at Indiana Convention Center.

Brad Holmes’ Top 3 Offseason Moves

Coming off a 12-5 regular season and a narrow loss in the NFC Championship Game, the Detroit Lions look to take the next step and advance to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history. General Manager Brad Holmes has done a great job acquiring talent, and Dan Campbell and the coaching job has molded that talent into one of the league’s top teams. The San Francisco 49ers are the odds on favorites to repeat as NFC Champs while the bookmakers have the Lions second. Detroit had most of the pieces in place as the 2023 league year ended and Holmes has done a fine job improving the roster so far in 2024.  The Lions don’t have any gaping holes on the roster and will be able to add talent at any position in the upcoming draft. Let’s take a look at the top three moves Detroit made in free agency.

Brad Holmes’ Top 3 Offseason Moves

DT D.J. Reader

Holmes’ top move was the free agent signing of Bengals defensive tackle D.J. Reader.  The addition of Reader gives the Lions one of the top interior defensive lines in the NFL.  Alim McNeill is one of the top young defensive tackles in the league and he produced without having much help in the middle of the line.  That’ll change with the addition of the big bodied Reader.  Reader is exceptional against the run and has shown the ability to get to the quarterback.  Pro Football Focus (PFF) had McNeill rated as the eighth best tackle in the league while Reader came in at No. 13 for the 2023 season.  The pair will dominate on the interior in 2024.

CB Carlton Davis

Second on the list was trading for cornerback Carlton Davis.  Holmes sent a 2024 third round pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Davis and a couple of sixth round picks, one in 2024 and one in 2025.  The biggest weakness on the team was at cornerback and in Davis, the Lions acquired one who excels in man coverage.  Per PFF, Davis didn’t allow a TD while in man converage and QBs had a 75.1 passer rating when they threw his way.  At 6’1″ and 206 pounds, Davis has the necessary size to cover the big WRs and can tackle. 

Last November, superstar wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase was asked who was the toughest defensive back he’s ever faced.

“For me, I’d say Carlton Davis,” Chase said. “He’s longer than I expected, longer arms, and he just, he ain’t got no knee bend, he just hunches over and plays defense. I think I’ve played him twice, too, so, he made some good plays so I ain’t never going to forget that one.” 

Great trade by Holmes.  Finally the Lions have a cover corner.

Guard Kevin Zeitler

The third best move of the offseason was the signing of guard Kevin Zeitler.  The biggest loss from the 2023 squad was guard Jonah Jackson. The Lions had one of the elite lines in the NFL, but there was a noticeable drop off during the five games Jackson missed. The Lions wanted to bring Jackson back into the mix and offered him a deal before the free agency period began, but Jackson tested the waters and got paid. He signed with the Los Angeles Rams for a three-year contract worth $51 million, with $34 million guaranteed.  Holmes filled the void with former Raven and 12 year veteran Zeitler to a one-year, $6 million contract.  Zeitler made the Pro Bowl in 2023 and came in at No. 15 on PFFs ratings for offensive guards.  He’s not the run blocker Jackson is, but he’s better at pass protection.  Zeitler will be the starter at right guard and Graham Glascow will man the position on the left.

Defensive end Marcus Davenport and corner back Akim Robertson were nice additions as well.  It’s fantastic that the Lions will be heading into the draft without being forced to draft for need.  Drafting for need is a recipe for disaster, Holmes will be able to draft for talent, the way it should be.

Main Image: © Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

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