Amidst QB Noise in NFL Draft, Don’t Expect the Lions to Bite
The Detroit Lions don't have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. That's not the most shocking statement in the midst of talking season around the league one week from the NFL Draft. Why then are the Lions content with not selecting one of the premier players at the position in next week's Draft with one of its first-round picks?
Lions general manager Brad Holmes held a press conference Thursday morning and said while the Lions have done their due diligence on the likes of Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, Will Levis, Anthony Richardson and the remaining names at the quarterback position, there's no pressure to make sure one of them lands in Detroit.
"We're not pressed," Holmes said. "We're not pinched. If it works out, it lines up, it does. If it doesn't, it doesn't."
Holmes said the team will definitely have a third quarterback added to the room at some point regardless, but that doesn't mean fans should expect one of the 6th or 18th overall selections to be a quarterback.
In part of the due diligence paid, the Lions have met formally with six quarterbacks in the pre-draft process, including first-round options Anthony Richardson at the NFL Combine and CJ Stroud and Hendon Hooker in top-30 visits.
So is the door closed? Well, not so fast. Just last week, head coach Dan Campbell said "all our options are open" when it comes to potentially using the 6th-overall selection on a signal caller with the understanding that the organization loves and trusts Goff.
"We're always looking to upgrade the roster at any position," Campbell said on The Rich Eisen Show last Thursday. "So if the right guy presents himself at one of our picks and we feel like it's the right thing to do, we'll do it."
Is taking a quarterback at 6 the right thing to do though? It's not likely. The Carolina Panthers appear sold on Alabama's Bryce Young. Will Levis and Anthony Richardson are the tools-heavy darling picks that are still seeing their stock rise as the Draft draws near and CJ Stroud is still likely to go in the top four selection in spite of them. At least three of these four names will be gone by the time the Lions are on the clock.
What options does that really leave the Lions? Richardson or Levis could fall and both would be expected to comfortably sit behind Goff for at least one season. Hendon Hooker is an option later, though his age and knee injury still makes it difficult to justify a first-round selection.
Eisen pointed it out, the only reason the Lions have this pick is because of the trade that brought Goff to Detroit from Los Angeles. He in turn highlighted Campbell won't want to pick this high again in his tenure in Detroit. So with this luxury selection, the Lions have to snag a superstar while they can.
The players the Lions have formally met within that vein? Alabama edge linebacker Will Anderson, Alabama safety Brian Branch and Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter. Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez is another sexy option, though the pre-draft meeting checkbox is left blank. Anderson is the least likely to be available at 6, but he is the best player and the thought of pairing him with Aiden Hutchinson is quite terrifying for opposing offenses.
But that's the trend, and ultimately the direction the Lions should go: defense. All four of those names help cement the culture Campbell is striving for the best, while selecting a quarterback is in direct opposition of that.
I hear you screaming out for Bijan Robinson. Yes he fits the culture and is a bonafide superstar out of the box. As good as he is, the Lions have the benefit of having another selection and can wait just a bit longer to grab him.
In the meantime, continuing to establish the defense which did finish strong on the field, but statistically was still towards the bottom of the league is the way to go.