Final four weeks matter a whole lot to Detroit Lions’ draft position

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
 
| Detroit Free Press

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A record six quarterbacks were taken in the first round of the 1983 NFL draft, including three future Hall-of-Famers: John Elway, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly.

The 2021 draft could yield similar depth at the position, with Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields all but guaranteed to be the top two picks and as many as four other quarterbacks – Trey Lance, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones and Kyle Trask – earning first-round interest.

That should make for an interesting final few weeks to the regular season as teams jockey for draft position, and it could aid the Detroit Lions and other quarterback-needy teams who don’t end up with top-10 picks.

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While the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars are locks to take Lawrence and Fields at the top of the draft, a number of the other teams currently slotted in the top 10 either do not need a quarterback or seem unlikely to roll the dice on the position.

The Cincinnati Bengals (at No. 3), Los Angeles Chargers (at No. 4) and Miami Dolphins (No. 9, via the Houston Texans) all have rookie quarterbacks who have impressed. The Dallas Cowboys (No. 5) are a wildcard given Dak Prescott’s injury and contract situation, though owner Jerry Jones insists Prescott remains in the franchise’s long-term plans. And the Philadelphia Eagles (No. 6) have two young quarterbacks on their roster in Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts.

It remains to be seen if Lance, Wilson, Jones or Trask emerges a premium first-round talent, but if you’re a Lions fan hoping to land one of that quartet come April, you’ll need to keep an eye on the four- and five-win teams that populate the bottom of my power rankings.

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Currently, the Carolina Panthers (No. 7) and Atlanta Falcons (No. 8) seem like threats to draft quarterbacks, though both have veterans under contract for 2021 at the position (Teddy Bridgewater in Carolina, Matt Ryan in Atlanta).

The Denver Broncos (No. 10) could have a new general manager with no ties to second-year quarterback Drew Lock calling the shots, and Washington (No. 11) may already have moved on from Dwayne Haskins.

The Lions currently sit 12th in the draft order, a spot that should give them options but probably not their choice of that second group of quarterbacks. In the most recent mock draft by CBS Sports, Lance and Wilson joined Lawrence and Fields as top-10 picks, Jones went 13th to the Chicago Bears and Trask slipped out of the first round.

Two four-win teams, the Broncos and Panthers, play this week, and in another draft pick-position game, the Falcons visit the Chargers.

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Neither of those games is as attractive as Bills-Steelers or Chiefs-Dolphins, but from the Lions’ standpoint, they may be more important.

This week’s power rankings:

1-Chiefs (11-1)

2-Steelers (11-1)

3-Saints (10-2)

4-Bills (9-3)

5-Packers (9-3)

6-Browns (9-3)

7-Seahawks (8-4)

8-Titans (8-4)

9-Colts (8-4)

10-Buccaneers (7-5)

11-Dolphins (8-4)

12-Rams (8-4)

13-Ravens (6-5)

14-Raiders (7-5)

15-Vikings (6-6)

16-Cardinals (6-6)

17-Patriots (6-6)

18-Giants (5-7)

19-Washington (5-7)

20-49ers (5-7)

21-Bears (5-7)

22-Lions (5-7)

23-Falcons (4-8)

24-Texans (4-8)

25-Panthers (4-8)

26-Broncos (4-8)

27-Cowboys (3-8)

28-Eagles (3-8-1)

29-Chargers (3-9)

30-Bengals (2-9-1)

31-Jaguars (1-11)

32-Jets (0-12)

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. 

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