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NFL draft questions: Detroit Lions to upgrade offense?

With the 2013 NFL Draft approaching, Around The League will examine one big question facing all 32 teams. Next up: The Detroit Lions.

Will the Lions target offense high in the draft ... again?


The Detroit Lions seemed destined to draft defensive players early and often last season after the 2011 team ranked No. 4 in NFL scoring offense. Observers were caught off-guard when the Lions selected Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff in the first round and Oklahoma wide receiver Ryan Broyles in the second. After all, this was the NFL's No. 23 defense with major issues in the secondary.

Offense remained the Lions' bread-and-butter last season despite a disappointing 4-12 record. The scoring defense ranked No. 27, but don't be surprised if the Lions select offensive players again in the early rounds this year.

Left tackle Jeff Backus retired after 12 seasons, and right tackle Gosder Cherilus signed with the Indianapolis Colts as an unrestricted free agent. Right guard Stephen Peterman was released, and receiver Titus Young was cut for a variety reasons. Receiver Nate Burleson is recovering from a broken leg suffered in October and Ryan Broyles tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee a year after he tore his left ACL.

Reiff will start this season, but the Lions have yet to say where. He can play anywhere on the line except center. Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard are offensive tackle options, but the two have a combined five starts.

Bill Nagy might step in at guard. He was drafted 252nd overall by the Dallas Cowboys in 2011 and started four games before he was released after breaking an ankle. He didn't play at all for the Lions last season. Rodney Austin might come off the practice squad to compete at guard.

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The Lions' offensive line hasn't exactly instilled much fear in opponents, and there's very little experience outside of right guard Rob Sims and center Dominic Raiola.

Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher might be available with the No. 5 overall pick, though defensive minds might lean toward Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner or BYU defensive end Ziggy Ansah.

The Lions addressed some defensive issues through free agency with the additions of defensive end Jason Jones and safety Glover Quin. They kept cornerback Chris Houston and Louis Delmas.

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There still are needs at cornerback, linebacker and defensive end, but the Lions might use their second-round pick on a receiver. You don't want to leave a quarterback with Matthew Stafford's abilities without weapons. That's why there's so much excitement over running back Reggie Bush joining the Lions.

The Green Bay Packers have shown there's no such thing as too much quality at receiver. They were able to absorb the loss of Greg Jennings with Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb. Calvin Johnson is the only healthy starting-caliber receiver on the Lions' roster.

Don't be shocked if the Lions are in an offensive state of mind at Radio City Music Hall in New York later this month.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.

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