With the 2013 NFL Draft order now set, we know that the Detroit Lions hold the fifth overall pick. We also know which teams are set to pick behind the Lions. While it's admittedly still way too early to start getting into in-depth discussions about potential picks and trade scenarios, let's gloss over the subject based on looking at the top 10 selections:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14) .516 SOS
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14) .539
3. Oakland Raiders (4-12) .469
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12) .508
5. Detroit Lions (4-12) .566
6. Cleveland Browns (5-11) .508
7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11) .559
8. Buffalo Bills (6-10) .480
9. New York Jets (6-10) .512 (4-8 conference record)
10. Tennessee Titans (6-10) .512 (5-7 conference record)
Unfortunately, the 2013 quarterback class is nowhere near as strong as 2012. There are no perceived "sure things" like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Instead, you have lots of question marks surrounding guys like Geno Smith and Matt Barkley, who didn't exactly have outstanding senior seasons. This means that there may not be a huge market for trading up.
On the other hand, it seems like every year one or two quarterbacks really see their stock shoot up either by way of an all-star game or the combine. This is exactly what the Lions should be rooting for. Not only could this improve the chances of a team wanting to trade up, but it could also give the Lions more non-quarterbacks to choose from when they go on the clock.
As it stands right now, I see seven teams in the top 10 that could conceivably draft a quarterback. This includes all four teams ahead of the Lions, although the Jaguars and Raiders likely will go with a slightly modified version of what they have right now in 2013 (perhaps with the addition of Tim Tebow in Jacksonville). Behind the Lions, the Cardinals, Bills and Jets all could have a need for a franchise quarterback, especially if new general managers and head coaches enter the mix.
For the sake of this conversation, let's consider one top quarterback is taken in the top four, leaving the No. 2 QB available when the Lions go on the clock with the fifth overall pick. Let's also consider that there is a significant drop off between the second and third quarterback out there, meaning that teams like the Cardinals, Bills and Jets could be competing for the chance to draft him. This could put the Lions in a nice position should they decide that they want to trade down. They could undercut the Browns at No. 6 by offering a better potential deal, and they could pit these three teams against each other and suggest that if they don't make a trade, they could lose out on their chance at getting a franchise quarterback.
For the Lions, if the potential for a deal is there, pulling the trigger will ultimately come down to feeling comfortable with which players will be available wherever you move down to. If you jump back to No. 9, for example, are the extra picks worth potentially losing out on someone who you know will be there at No. 5? That is the main question the Lions will face aside from if the situation is actually going to present a realistic option to make a trade.
Since it is so early in the offseason, I suppose this is my way of saying that we should keep an eye on quarterbacks both from a free agency and trade standpoint and from the perspective of quarterbacks in the 2013 draft class. The Lions certainly aren't going to make any changes with Matthew Stafford at the helm, but how the quarterback market shakes out could impact their potential for a draft-day trade. If the Jets go out and trade for Michael Vick or deal Mark Sanchez, for example, that could affect what kind of market there is for a deal.
Even if there ends up being an offer on the table come draft day, that doesn't mean the Lions will pull the trigger on it. Regardless, it's certainly worth considering the possibilities given that the Lions do have so many needs. An extra pick here or there could really help the Lions both now and in the future, especially if they find a way to swing a first- or second-round pick out of it. Trading down early in the draft hasn't exactly been Martin Mayhew's modus operandi, but the Lions may find themselves in a situation where it makes sense in 2013.