The Detroit Lions’ approach to building their roster in new head coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes' first offseason has been an old-school exercise in foundation-laying — attack the lines of scrimmage. But what if there is more intelligent design behind that strategy than simple caveman NFL thinking?
Conventional NFL wisdom says that a team should be built from the trenches, but analytics would argue that because of positional value, a team should be built from the outside in. Receivers and cornerbacks are more valuable than offensive and defensive linemen in terms of PFF Wins Above Replacement, so those players should be targeted and coveted above other positions.
Yet, the Lions might be onto something.
Targeting the most important and valuable positions is only part of the equation of a total rebuild, which the Lions are in the midst of. The new regime was handed monster six-year contracts, which brings the kind of long-term security that allows the group to think about a roster transformation spanning multiple seasons. The Lions had a rare opportunity to look at this rebuild from square one, knowing that Rome wasn’t going to get built in a day.