With just over a week until the NFL Draft, we kick off our preview series for the Detroit Lions. Holding the third overall pick and a having a ton of needs to address, there isn’t a position on the field that should be completely out of the question for the Lions.
Today, we start our NFL Draft preview series with quarterbacks. It’s a position the Lions may be set at, but it’s also the most valuable position in the game. Upgrading should always be in consideration, whether you’re talking about the starter or the depth. So let’s take a look at what the 2020 class has to offer.
Under contract (last year under contract): Matthew Stafford (2022), Chase Daniel (2022), David Blough (2021)
Level of need: 2/10
For the next two years, we may finally see some stability with the Lions’ quarterback depth chart. Detroit has their franchise quarterback, their veteran backup and their developmental passer all signed for the next two seasons. There’s really no reason to shake things up unless you’re unhappy with the progress of any of these three quarterbacks.
That being said, Stafford’s bloated contract finally becomes movable in 2021, so if Detroit wants to move on from him—and there’s been absolutely no indication they do—it becomes possible quite soon.
First-round options: Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert
The Tua Tagovailoa talk has considerably died down from early in draft season, but there remains a logical argument to be made for the Lions to consider him with their first round pick. Detroit is set up perfectly to sit Tagovailoa for a year, then enjoy a few seasons of a quarterback on a rookie deal while cashing in a few high draft picks by moving Stafford. It’s an extremely risky move, but there’s a blueprint of success with this method in the recent era of the NFL. The Eagles and Chiefs have both won Super Bowls with rookie-deal quarterbacks and the Rams came damn close two years ago.
It seems extremely unlikely the Lions take this route, however, as coaches and management have shown nothing but unwavering support for Stafford.
Mid-to-late-round options: Shea Patterson, James Morgan, Jake Fromm, Nate Stanley
It seems much more likely the Lions add a late-round prospect to contend with Blough for a developmental role. The Lions got a good look at Patterson at the Senior Bowl and Lions head coach Matt Patricia seemed to get along with him. While FIU’s James Morgan is a strong-armed prospect that could use some reigning in with a solid coach. Luckily for the Lions, they have one in QB coach Sean Ryan.
Fromm would make for an interesting Georgia-heavy quarterback room, but would likely require a bigger draft investment than some of the other Day 3 options. Fromm has a great deal of college success, but he doesn’t exactly have a pro-style arm or great athletic traits. Personally, I think he’s destined for a backup role—which is fine—but probably a bit much to be spending a third or fourth-round pick on.
Finally, there’s Nate Stanley, a three-year starter and captain from one of the Lions’ coaching staff’s favorite colleges: Iowa. He’s got the physical traits to be a professional quarterback, but he’s missing one extremely key thing: accuracy. That tends to be one of the least-coachable traits, so Stanley’s ceiling is likely fairly low.