The Detroit Lions will enter the 2021 NFL regular season with several questions swirling about their new front office, coaching staff, and their quarterback under center. This is far from the Same Old Lions, yet the end results could be far too familiar.
For now, the new faces working for the Motor City Leos are getting the benefit of the doubt and a chance to prove their worth. Yet, the team has done little to improve its roster this offseason and seem destined to field a far less talented team than the one that went 5-11 just last year.
Much of that concern is due to the fact quarterback Matthew Stafford is no longer at the helm of the offense. Stafford was undoubtedly the linchpin of this team for more than a decade. And the Lions executed a trade this offseason sending the franchise passer to the Los Angeles Rams for two first-round selections, a third-rounder, and quarterback Jared Goff.
And while the Giddy for Goff campaign is in full swing, it’s difficult to imagine the team actually being able to win more games than they did last year with him under center rather than Stafford. Especially since offensive weapons like receivers Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., and Danny Amendola are now gone.
In their place, the Lions have put together a misfit group of random receivers that will likely enter the season labeled one of the worst positional groups in the NFL. Obviously, new wideouts Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, Kalif Raymond, and Damion Ratley will have a chance to prove the naysayers wrong. But it’s currently a far cry from the talented receiver corps Stafford had over the past few years.
The position of wide receiver has been a popular one mocked for the Lions’ first-round selection in this month’s NFL Draft. Owning the seventh overall pick, receiver prospects like Alabama’s DeVonta Smith and LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase have been popular predictions to land in Motown by draftniks.
But the current state of the Lions actually seems to be an ideal situation to draft a first-round quarterback instead. Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz of USA Today seems to agree, predicting North Dakota quarterback Trey Lance will land in Detroit in a recent mock draft. Here’s his explanation as to why …
“Landing in Detroit would seemingly afford [Trey] Lance the chance to sit and learn for a year while he resolves some ball placement and timing issues, positioning him as an imposing dual-threat option whenever he’s ready to take the reins.”
Along with Lance, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields seems to also be a popular choice to fall to Detroit in many mock drafts. Both rookies would likely benefit from sitting behind a veteran like Goff for a season or two in Detroit.
And the fact the Lions are in the midst of a rebuild after just hiring a new front office and coaching staff means ownership will give them time to groom a new franchise passer properly. So sitting a rookie quarterback like a Trey Lance or Justin Fields for a season or two behind Goff makes sense. Especially if the team will be using multiple first-round draft picks in 2022 and 2023 to stock the team with young talent to support a new franchise passer.
There are clearly benefits to drafting and promptly benching first-round quarterbacks. Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers are two prime examples of how allowing a rookie quarterback to sit and learn from a veteran passer can pay major dividends down the road. And the new-look Detroit Lions appear to be in an ideal situation to do just that.