Detroit Lions fans should have one prayer, heading into the NFL draft, and it goes like this:
Come on San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan. Trust your gut. Take Alabama quarterback Mac Jones. He fits your offense perfectly. He processes information quickly and is a winner, who won the national title at Alabama. Sure, he had all kinds of talent. But don’t hold that against him. We all know Jones isn’t very mobile. Big deal. Don’t you dare take Justin Fields — that could mess up everything for the Lions. And don’t be tempted by Trey Lance. Just take Jones and be done with it. That’s why you mortgaged the future, moving up to No.3. Trust your instincts, Kyle.
WHAT COULD HAPPEN: Predicting Lions’ NFL draft picks: 3 scenarios to love in Rounds 1-3
Because if that happens, if the 49ers take Jones, this prayer will shift to Atlanta:
Come on Falcons, take Kyle Pitts. Give Matt Ryan the option he needs. Ryan only has a few years left. This is your chance. Don’t you dare trade with anybody, especially not Denver because that would hurt the Lions. The big goal here is for quarterbacks to be available when the Lions pick. And the only team that would want to move up that high is a team wanting a quarterback (Or the Dallas Cowboys wanting Kyle Pitts).
Oh, one last thing, Falcons: Don’t you dare take a quarterback — that would sting just as bad.
Because if the 49ers take Jones and the Falcons take Pitts, everything could fall into place for the Lions to have a perfect, unbelievable draft …
By trading down to get extra picks and grab a defensive player.
Not really a Hail Mary
No matter how it all shakes out, Lions fans should have one goal as they want the draft unfolds: Just make sure Fields is available when they are on the clock at No. 7.
Because if Fields — whom I think is the second-best quarterback in the draft — is available, then a bunch of teams will be tempted to trade with the Lions, including New England, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Washington.
So let me roll out the perfect scenario for the Lions.
Pick No. 1: Jacksonville takes Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
OK, yep, done deal.
Lions at No. 7 in NFL draft: Five players who likely fit in Brad Holmes’ ‘cluster’
Pick No. 2: New York Jets take Zach Wilson, a quarterback from BYU.
No surprise there.
Pick No. 3: The 49ers take Jones (the fifth-best QB in the draft).
Pick No. 4: Atlanta takes Pitts, a freak of nature from Florida.
Quick caveat: Stop dreaming Lions fans. Yes, I know Pitts is a special talent. But there is no way he will slip to the Lions.
Pick No. 5: Cincinnati takes Penei Sewell, an offensive lineman from Oregon.
Pick No. 6: Miami takes Ja’Marr Chase, a wide receiver from LSU.
Quick prayer to Dolphins: Don’t you dare be tempted by Fields or Lance. Tua Tagovailoa is your guy. Keep repeating it. Tua is your guy. You need to give him more weapons.
Under this dream scenario, Lance and Fields would still be available and several quarterback-needy teams will be calling the Lions. So come on down — Denver, Chicago and New England — it’s time to make a deal.
Chicago has the No. 20 pick and would be the least desirable for the Lions.
Denver would be the ideal trading partner because the Broncos have the No. 9 pick. The Lions would move back just two spots, add more draft picks — perhaps a third-rounder — and the Lions could still end up with Patrick Surtain or Micah Parsons. Surtain is the safer pick but Parsons has more potential upside considering he is an athletic freak.
New England, picking at No. 15, would be less desirable, if you are just talking draft picks, but the Patriots have something else. Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore is on an expiring contract. And the Patriots are willing to include him in a package, according to ESPN reporter Dianna Russini.
“(Gilmore is) making about $7 million this season. That’s severely underpaid for the Defensive Player of the Year in 2019,” Russini said on ESPN’s “Get Up” on Monday. “New England Patriots could, perhaps, deal Stephon Gilmore on draft night as part of a package to move up … I did speak to a team in the top 10 who told me they have had calls with New England.”
If the Patriots give the Lions their first- and second-round picks and Gilmore on a one-year rental, you do it. Because you could still end up with Parsons or South Carolina corner Jaycee Horn. At worst, you use Gilmore as another trading chip, flipping him for more picks at the trade deadline.
CARLOS MONARREZ: Lions must avoid this one position with No. 7 pick in NFL draft
But let’s keep moving and say the Lions trade with the Broncos.
No. 7: The Broncos take Lance.
Pick No. 8: Carolina Panthers take a wide receiver or a lineman, because they have Sam Darnold.
That leaves the Lions at No. 9. And the Patriots would still want Fields.
Yeah, that’s two trades. But if we are praying for something big here, if we are enlisting higher powers, let’s shoot for the moon.
“At 7, we do have cluster of players that we’re comfortable with picking,” Lions GM Brad Holmes said Friday. “But at the same time, we will be very prepared and also willing to move in either direction.”
By either direction, I believe he means: Back or way back.
A prayer unanswered?
Now, there is another way this could all unfold.
And Lions fans will be familiar with this because it is the worst-case scenario — the 49ers pass on Jones and take Lance and then Denver trades with the Falcons and takes Fields and Pitts is taken by the Bengals.
And suddenly, the Lions would be left debating if they want a tackle or a wide receiver.
And there are no teams left that want to move up to take Jones.
I’m not dissing Sewell or even Chase. They are both talented, blue-chip players. But it would be far better if the Lions could trade back.
Sadly, as Lions fans have been conditioned to expect — oh, after the last half century or so — a trade is probably not gonna happen. All Lions fans can do is hope and pray.
Then again, prayer works.
You want proof? The Lions don’t have Bob Quinn or Matt Patricia anymore, right? At least those prayers were answered.