Incumbent Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff said he is not bothered by growing speculation the Lions could take a quarterback at some point early in next week’s NFL draft.
“There’s no way for me to control it,” Goff said Thursday after Day 3 of the Lions offseason program. “What do I make of the talk? The talk is always just talk. If it happens, great, I’ll deal with it from there and be the best player I can be. If it doesn’t, then you guys probably won’t talk about it again. That’s the way the media cycle works. Again, I trust those guys up top and like I said, they expressed confidence in me so I’m excited.”
Lions general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell have been complimentary of Goff’s play in recent months as he enters 2022 as the team’s starting quarterback, but neither has endorsed Goff as the franchise’s long-term future at the position.
The Lions have three of the first 34 picks in this year’s draft and have been connected to several of the top quarterback prospects.
They coached Malik Willis at the Senior Bowl in February and came away impressed by his play, and hosted both Willis and Pitt’s Kenny Pickett on recent pre-draft visits.
Willis and Pickett are potential top-10 picks and the best of what’s considered a mediocre quarterback crop in a draft that also includes Matt Corral of Ole Miss, Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati and Sam Howell of North Carolina.
Corral, Ridder and Howell are projected to go in the first two rounds, but ESPN analyst Todd McShay said Wednesday “any quarterback in this class would have been the sixth quarterback off the board last year,” behind New England Patriots starter Mac Jones.
The Lions are contractually tied to Goff through the 2024 season, though they could get out of the deal with limited salary cap implications after this season.
Holmes said at the NFL’s annual meeting last month he thought Goff would be receptive to mentoring a young quarterback if the Lions added one in the draft. Asked Thursday if he would enjoy that role, Goff sounded less enthused.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I think yeah, maybe. I mean, I’ve always liked helping younger guys. I don’t know. I have no idea. I’ve never been in that position. I don’t know. I’m sure I would be the same guy I am and be helpful if I felt like it.”
Acquired last spring as part of the Matthew Stafford trade, Goff had a rocky first season in Detroit but played well in the second half of the year, when he won three of his final four starts while missing three games with injuries.
For the season, he completed a career-high 67.2% of his passes but averaged just 6.6 yards per attempt, his lowest number since his rookie year.
“Anytime you win three games there’s going to be discussion at a lot of positions and quarterback’s no different,” Goff said. “So I’ve got to prove myself every year, every day and work as best I can and be the best I can every day.”
Goff said he was “very” excited to see the Lions promote Ben Johnson to offensive coordinator this offseason — Goff’s play ticked up after Johnson took over as the team’s pass game coordinator midway through the schedule — and is “a lot more comfortable” heading into Year 2 in Detroit.
The Lions return their entire starting offense from last year’s 3-13-1 team and added receiver DJ Chark in free agency. Chark, who is expected to play the X receiver role this fall, attended a throwing session Goff hosted for offensive skill players in California last month.
“I think anytime you’re comfortable it’s helpful,” Goff said. “There’s a million things I can work on, on the field, but off the field in the building, being able to be in a place that you are familiar with is always helpful.”
Goff wore a gray, Lions-issued long-sleeve T-shirt to Thursday’s media session with the word “Salty” across the chest, but insisted there was no hidden meaning to his wardrobe selection.
He said he was happy for his old team, the Los Angeles Rams, who won the Super Bowl less than 13 months after changing quarterbacks, and is confident the Lions are headed for better things in 2022.
“I said this a few months ago, but I was happy for them,” Goff said. “So many friends, so many lifelong friends, so many teammates, coaches that the list is so long that I know were striving for that for so long that were able to accomplish it and they earned it. they deserved it, they worked hard and earned it so I was so happy for them. And then for me personally, just continue to get better. Has nothing to do with what they’ve done. I need to get better myself and bring the Lions where we need to be.”