The NFL Draft is always about the long-term goal of building your team for the future. While some fans get caught up in filling the immediate needs, the truth is a good draft will pay dividends well beyond the present, and really start to pay off three, four or even five years down the road. Small contracts—as well as exclusive negotiating rights—for the first few years of an extremely talented player is one of the most efficient ways to build a talented squad.
The Detroit Lions drafted nine players over the weekend, giving us an idea as to what this team may look like in the future. Combining that with what we already know about the team, I think it’s time we look into the future.
That’s right, overly pop culture-reliant inner dialogue. Let’s look all the way to the year 2022.
Here are five predictions for the Detroit Lions over the next five years.
1. Matthew Stafford will get the “playoff wins” monkey off his back
The Lions have already climbed their way to being a competitive team on an annual basis. They’ve made the playoffs twice in the past three years and three times since 2011. Stafford has played a huge part in taking the franchise to that level. Now, with what appears to be a competent general manager, the team will finally win their second playoff game in the Super Bowl era.
2. By 2022, the Lions will have a new coaching staff
I’m not necessarily saying Jim Caldwell will be fired, but I’m also not saying he won’t. There is just something strange about the pairing of Caldwell and Bob Quinn. It seems like an odd mix of old and new school, and at some point, it will be too much. With Detroit’s coordinators getting annual buzz for grabbing a head coaching time, it’s only a matter of time before those guys are replaced. But the last time the Lions had a head coach for 8 straight years was Wayne Fontes. I don’t see Caldwell being that next guy, especially since he’ll be older than any current head coach by then.
3. Taylor Decker will be a 3-time Pro Bowler
There is no player on the Lions roster that I believe has a brighter future than Taylor Decker. The guy outperformed all expectations in his rookie year, and his workaholic attitude will only lead to bigger and better things. By the time 2022 hits, Decker will be off his rookie contract and will be one of the highest paid offensive linemen in the league.
4. The Lions will have a top 10 defense
Led by Jarrad Davis, Teez Tabor and a veteran Darius Slay, the Lions will finally have a competitive defense again. It will take a while, and the first two or three years will be filled with a lot of frustration and talk about wasting Stafford’s best years with a sub-par defense. But Detroit’s defense will eventually become a turnover machine by the year 2022.
5. Matt Prater will still be kicking for the Lions
I don’t care if you’ll be 37, please don’t leave us. I’m still not over Jason Hanson.
Which prediction will be more likely in 2022?
This poll is closed
Matthew Stafford will have a playoff win
The Lions will have a brand-new coaching staff
Taylor Decker is a 3x Pro Bowler
The Lions have a top 10 defense
Matt Prater is still kicking