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Monday open thread: Should the Lions trade up to draft a quarterback?

Is it worth moving up for a top-tier quarterback prospect?

CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T - Ohio State v Alabama Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The dominoes of the draft are slowing starting to fall.

The San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins completed a blockbuster deal that saw the 49ers jump into the top three of the 2021 NFL Draft. Barring some lunacy from their front office, that move will entail selecting a quarterback, though the specific quarterback remains to be seen. With that expected move, we could easily see three quarterbacks in the top three.

In a draft class with some elite quarterback talent, the Detroit Lions might end up missing out. Back in December, sitting at seventh overall seemed like a suitable position to draft a quarterback. Suddenly, things seem less clear just a few months later. The Atlanta Falcons might opt to find Matt Ryan’s heir, while the Cincinnati Bengals have feasible trade down options. Add in Miami trading back up with the Philadelphia Eagles to sit at sixth overall, and there is any number of ways the draft could fall.

The Lions sit at an important crossroad of their rebuild: is Jared Goff a quarterback to build around, or a stopgap for another player? With first round picks from the Matthew Stafford trade, the Lions will have assets to acquire one, be it in 2021 or later. If the Lions want to get a top quarterback in 2021, a trade seems like the only option. The question remains, however, if such a move would be worth it.

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Should the Lions trade up to draft a quarterback?

My answer: I think they should.

The idea of getting the fourth quarterback in a draft is usually an unwelcome one, since it often means reaching for a project or lesser prospect. The 2021 class is very different, however, and the top four of Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, and Trey Lance are all superb prospects worthy of top-10 picks. It seems unlikely that one of those four will fall to seventh overall. As a non-believer in Mac Jones, I would not want the Lions to draft him at seven.

I am not sold on Jared Goff as the future of the quarterback position in Detroit. I do not see him suddenly progressing on a team far worse than the Los Angeles Rams. Even with his restructured contract, you can move on from him after 2022. As seen with the Rams, the Steelers, and the Bears, even the most talented teams have difficulty overcoming the hurdle of a non-elite quarterback. I have no issues sitting a young quarterback for a season or two.

Even if the Lions aren’t going to compete for the next two or three seasons, thus “wasting” their rookie contract, that should not be an issue. If you have a conundrum where you have to pay a franchise quarterback a lot of money, consider that a good scenario—it means you have a franchise quarterback.

The likeliest trade option would be with the Falcons. Matt Ryan has a monstrous dead cap hit in 2021 and 2022, which might deter the team from drafting a quarterback—I would still draft one if I were them. Nonetheless, the Lions might be able to move up by trading their seventh overall pick and a 2022 first rounder, plus perhaps a fourth or fifth somewhere. The 49ers gave up the 12th overall pick, a third rounder, and first rounders in 2022 and 2023 to move up to three. The Dolphins then gave up the 12th overall pick, pick number 123 (a fourth rounder), and a 2022 first for the Eagles’ sixth overall pick and pick 153 (a fifth rounder). With the Lions moving up just a few spots from seventh to fourth, it could very well be a worthwhile expense.

The Bengals could also be a trade candidate, although it will likely be a draft day deal. The Lions would have to know what Atlanta does with their pick prior to trading up. There would be no point trading up from seven to five only for the top four quarterbacks to be off the board. If Atlanta opts to forego a quarterback, then calling Cincinnati would be an immediate course of action.

The idea of surrendering draft capital to acquire a quarterback on a barren roster will earn the ire of many fans, but I believe that if you need a franchise quarterback and have an opportunity to acquire a top-tier quarterback prospect, you take it.

Your turn.


Should the Lions trade up to draft a quarterback?

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