On Monday, Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud finally made the decision to declare for the 2023 NFL Draft. There were some rumors that he was seriously considering a return, and Stroud waited until the final day to declare to finally announce his decision.
“The process has been difficult, and the decision, one of the hardest I’ve ever had to make,” Stroud said in a statement on Twitter. “As a kid, I dreamed of playing football at the highest level and after much prayer, I’ve made the decision that it’s time to turn those dreams into a reality.”
Obviously, when a potential top-10 pick declares for the draft, it will have a drastic impact on the draft, and that’s especially true when it’s a quarterback. So let’s take a closer look at how it will impact the 2023 NFL Draft, and more importantly, how it will affect the Detroit Lions.
There will continue to be speculation that the Lions take a quarterback
If you listened to the end-of-season press conferences from coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes, you are probably understandably scoffing at this. Both Campbell and Holmes threw their support behind Jared Goff unequivocally, with Holmes even getting a little (playfully) testy with a reporter who suggested considering a quarterback early in the draft.
“I think it’s easier to get worse at quarterback than to get better at quarterback in this league,” Holmes said. “And so, I think what Jared has done this year, he – captain of the ship of a top three offense and I want to say he was top 10 statistically in most of the passing categories.”
Unfortunately, that isn’t going to stop any speculation. We went through this last year, and now that there are three potential top-10 guys in Stroud, Alabama’s Bryce Young and Kentucky’s Will Levis available, the Lions will likely have a shot at one with the sixth overall pick.
I would still be shocked if the Lions went quarterback early, but with options on the table, expect the speculation to continue. And while that will be mildly frustrating as a fan, the more confusion surrounding Detroit’s intentions, the better.
More likely, Lions could land an elite defensive talent
The Lions finished the season with the worst defense in the league by yardage, and general manager Brad Holmes basically said they will make strong efforts to improve that side of the ball this year.
“Obviously, our defense was ranked 32nd, so I mean it’s pretty obviously that we’re going to have to utilize some resources to try and improve that defense,” Holmes said.
Stroud entering the draft keeps hope alive that an elite defensive talent slips to Detroit. Without Stroud in the mix, it would have been near impossible to see Alabama edge defender Will Anderson or Georgia’s defensive tackle Jalen Carter fall to six, but now there’s a chance. There are a lot of quarterback-needy teams at the top of the draft order (Texans, Colts, Raiders, Falcons, and Panthers all in the top 10), meaning three quarterbacks going in the top five is not out of the question. If that happens, Anderson, Carter, or the top defensive back in the class will be available to Detroit.
The Chicago Bears’ first overall pick just got a little less valuable
With the first overall pick, a roster full of needs across the board, and no pressure to draft a quarterback, the Bears may as well put a “For Sale” sign in front of Halas Hall this offseason.
Because there are so many quarterback-needy teams at the top of the draft, the Bears are in a really good position to potentially trade down. But with Stroud declaring, teams may not be scrambling as much to get that top pick. If general managers have similar grades for Stroud, Levis, and Young, they will wait rather than spend the most draft capital to trade all the way to No. 1.
Dropping the value of a rival’s top pick is always good news for the Lions.