Now before you start screaming at me about how I’m crazy, I should insert a disclaimer that this is a part of our “The Detroit Lions should draft ____” series, and I’m here to convince myself of this as much as I am you. That being said, let’s look at the logic here.
Previously: The Lions should trade down for Yannick Ngakoue
First and foremost, the Lions should be drafting Tristan Wirfs to play guard, not tackle. With Taylor Decker anchoring the left side and Halapoulivaati Vaitai holding down the right, there’s no need to waste a first-round pick on a tackle. Wirfs has been ranked as low as the third or fourth best tackle in the draft on many big boards, and a big reason for that is what is referred to as “heavy feet.”
Wirfs Pros; extremely strong and powerful, smart, tough, good technique— Joe Thomas (@joethomas73) April 20, 2020
Wirfs Cons; sometimes guys who have powerlifter lower body strength have "heavy" legs and you can see that on tape from Wirfs. His first step quickness and change of direction suddenness could be better
When you’re drafting a tackle at the NFL level, drafting one with heavy feet is a dangerous game to play. The game is changing and light, quick defensive ends are making their presence known in the league (anybody remember our affinity for the notoriously undersized Brian Burns this time last year?) With that being the case, playing tackle is evolving from a game of power to a game of holistic athleticism.
Tackles have a lot of space to cover, especially against defensive schemes like the beloved Jim Schwartz’s wide-9. As a tackle, it doesn’t matter how strong your upper body is or how good your technique is if defensive ends can simply run around you or escape you with an outside-to-inside move. That being said, Wirfs is still a damn good player—there’s a reason we’re talking about him in the top ten picks.
Well, now that we’ve determined that he fits best with the Lions (and with many other teams) at guard, let’s look at the Lions’ list of positional needs heading into the draft:
Would you look at that!
Now I know what you’re thinking: it doesn’t make sense to draft a guard this high after Bob Quinn just let a very good guard in Graham Glasgow walk away in free agency. I agree with that sentiment, however the NFL is the last place you want to get caught in the sunk cost fallacy. The fact of the matter is that the Lions have a gaping hole at guard and Wirfs’ elite power and impeccable technique would make for a great guard without a doubt.
Now I’m not crazy; the Lions shouldn’t draft him third overall. Even when the Indianapolis Colts drafted Quenton Nelson sixth overall a couple years ago it caused a ruckus because it wasn’t the best positional value, which is a valid argument. I think Wirfs would be a much better pick for the Lions if they were to trade down, perhaps to the ninth pick or beyond. Even if they don’t, I wouldn’t put it past Bob Quinn to draft Wirfs if the Lions only trade down to fifth or sixth overall. Quite frankly, Bob Quinn has pooped the bed with the Graham Glasgow situation and with a must-win season ahead, it would make sense for him to prioritize filling roster holes over worrying about positional value.
That’s just my thinking, though. Take it or leave it.