COMMENTARY | Training camp is finally appearing on the horizon so this is as good of time as any to take a look at the Detroit Lions roster in comparison to last year.
Not only will it distract you from the lack of real football, it'll be exciting to see where and how the Lions have improved.
This series (defensive position groups to come next week) will get your hopes up and also cause you to curse general manager Martin Mayhew for not addressing a specific need.
Lastly, all of these stock quotes are speculation and each group could rise or fall with its preseason
performance. We'll review where each group is after the final exhibition game has finished.
Obviously, the quarterbacking depth chart will look exactly the same as the 2012 edition, but there is a subtle difference that makes the current edition more enticing-leadership.
Matthew Stafford has spent his summer preparing to lead his team back to playoffs. He's taken responsibility for Detroit's past failures, and isn't going to allow any of his teammates to make excuses for poor performances.
Shaun Hill remains arguably the best backup in the league, while Kellen Moore will be fighting with Thaddeus Lewis for the third spot.
Running Back: Extremely Up
The time to buy Lions running backs stock was the middle of last season, because the price has tripled since then. The addition of Reggie Bush gives the offense a weapon it's been lacking since Jahvid Best's last concussion.
But Bush can bring more than just sure hands and a quick burst. His time with the Miami Dolphins proved he could pick up the tough yards between the tackles.
However, Detroit won't be leaning on Bush for short-yardage conversions. That job, along with the physical, change-of-pace duties, will fall to either Joique Bell or Mikel Leshoure, which means that the top two backs of 2012 have been relegated to a support role.
That's an improvement.
Wide Receiver: Neutral
The receiving corps is heavy on talent, but also has plenty of uncertainty once you get past Calvin Johnson.
A full year with a healthy Broyles would give this team a serious boost in the passing game. But two straight years cut short by ACL injuries are a cause for concern.
And there's a reason that the Lions took receivers in the second round for two consecutive years. Mayhew understands that Burleson's time as a solid secondary receiver will be coming to an end soon.
Mike Thomas could prove to a better pickup with the extra time to study the offensive scheme. And Patrick Edwards could continue his impressive play as of late. But all of these events are too speculative at this time to carry much weight.
Tight End: Up
Brandon Pettigrew's inconsistency has plagued him over the past few years. He dropped nine passes in 2012 on his way to a 62.1-percent catch rate, which was the 53rd worst rate among tight ends.
But the reports of his offseason program have been encouraging. He's acknowledged the issues and appears to be working hard to correct them.
Yet, that's not why the tight-end group is headed in the right direction. That honor falls to rookies Michael Williams and Joseph Fauria.
Williams will aptly fill the role vacated by Will Heller. He'll be the big body who comes in as part of a jumbo set and pushes people around while he works toward becoming a dual-threat tight end.
While Williams is a nice addition, Fauria could turn out to be the real gem. The kid is turning heads with his Tony Scheffler-like talent, and could end up pushing the veteran for his minutes and his roster spot.
Offensive Line: Down
It's not often that a team can lose three starters and have a better offensive line. Or, at least one that anyone believes is better.
And that's exactly where the Lions find themselves.
Obviously, the retirement of a consistent tackle like Jeff Backus will be felt, but replacing the now well-compensated Gosder Cherilus won't be easy either.
And while the loss of Stephen Peterman may well prove to be addition by subtraction, he wasn't nearly as terrible as advertised. In fact, he was quite average.
So now we're supposed to buy that three new starters (Riley Reiff, Larry Warford and either Jason Fox or Corey Hilliard) with only six career professional starts between them will be an improvement? Possibly in the long run, but that's not the focus of this particular exercise.
Check back in a week for the defensive position groups.
Brandon Alisoglu is a Michigan native and has been covering the Detroit Lions for two years. He has been published at Yahoo!, Bleacher Report, CNN and other websites. He also co-hosts a podcast called Lions Central Radio with Nick Kostora that can be found on ITunes and Stitcher.
Follow Brandon on Twitter Follow @BrandonAlisoglu .
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