The Detroit Lions are presently 5-7 — two video games away from a wild card spot. They’ve received 4 of their final 5, and their lone loss was by solely three factors to the Buffalo Payments — a crew many individuals think about Tremendous Bowl favorites. With 5 video games left on their schedule, solely two are in opposition to groups with a successful document. They’re favored in considered one of them, and the opposite is in opposition to Mike White. The playoffs aren’t out of the image. Issues are wanting good.
The longer term within the Motor Metropolis is brilliant, particularly contemplating they nonetheless have an additional first-round draft decide within the 2023 draft, courtesy of the Los Angeles Rams and Matthew Stafford. Wait a minute! The Rams are horrible this 12 months! There are solely three groups (the Bears, Texans, and Broncos) with worse data than them presently. There’s an opportunity the Lions not solely make the playoffs however have a top-five decide as properly…this makes issues very fascinating.
One of many key items to Detroit’s sudden fortune has been quarterback Jared Goff. He’s already matched his passing landing complete from final season, is on tempo to surpass 4,000 yards by way of the air, is presently matching his career-best completion share (64.9 p.c), and is on tempo for his greatest passer score since 2018 — when he took the Rams to the Tremendous Bowl.
There are nonetheless a number of holes on the Lions’ roster, significantly on the defensive aspect of the ball, however Goff isn’t a franchise quarterback. He’s a strong bridge quarterback, somebody to elevate the crew to potential relevance when you search for your future face of the franchise. As soon as the roster round Goff has been solidified, it’s time to make like Elsa and let him go. Nonetheless, with so many points to resolve on the protection nonetheless, the remainder of the NFC North wanting somewhat weak transferring ahead, and two first-round draft picks, is it actually time to modify off Goff, or can the Lions journey it out with the previous No. 1 total decide another 12 months?
The reply…is a convincing “no.”
The very fact of the matter is that the Lions are constructed for the long run. They’ve received an important younger corps of receivers, most of that are nonetheless on their rookie contracts. Their greatest defensive contributors are younger. Their offensive line is older, however nonetheless has younger bucks like Penei Sewell holding down the fort at proper deal with. Ought to every little thing go in accordance with plan (AKA avoiding accidents and what not), the Lions can be in competition within the NFC North for a few years. They received’t have one other top-five draft decide for an extended, very long time, so the time to draft an elite quarterback prospect is correct now.
Certain, there are a large number of quarterbacks within the league these days who weren’t drafted within the top-10: Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, Justin Fields. And on the identical time, you might additionally say there’s by no means been a much bigger focus of quarterback busts drafted early: Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Mitchell Trubisky, Zach Wilson, however I’d hesitate to say drafting a quarterback within the high 10 just isn’t a sensible transfer. All people is aware of that’s the place you get the top-tier expertise.
That’s why most draft analysts nonetheless consider three quarterbacks within the upcoming draft class will go within the top-10 picks: Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, Alabama’s Bryce Younger, and Kentucky’s Will Levis. Whereas latest drafts, when there have been this many QBs projected to go within the top-10, didn’t precisely pan out — 2021: Lawrence, Wilson, Lance; 2019: Mayfield, Darnold, Allen, Rosen — there was nonetheless some high-end expertise to be discovered. Josh Allen is a perennial MVP candidate, though he took just a few years to develop. Trevor Lawrence continues to be regarded by many as the most effective QB prospect since Andrew Luck, and he’s proven flashes of greatness in his quick profession to date. Plus, the quarterbacks in between have been fairly strong as properly. Kyler Murray, Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, and Justin Herbert have all changed into franchise skills with top-five upside. Even Daniel Jones has managed to stay a starter for 4 seasons and has had moments the place he’s appeared like a franchise man — upping his completion share yearly he’s been within the league, whereas doing the alternative together with his interception charge.
The Lions are at a crossroads proper now the place they will both seize a possible star and compete for a Tremendous Bowl, or hope Goff can proceed his run of success and lead the Lions to a Tremendous Bowl simply as he did with the Rams, regardless of Detroit not having any of the celebrity defensive gamers that LA did.
The selection appears straightforward on the floor, and it type of is. Sure, there’s all the time potential that the participant you draft busts. I’m not denying that, however in that case, you’ve nonetheless received Goff to fall again on. He’s underneath contract for one more two seasons after 2022. I’m not saying to chop him (despite the fact that there’s an out in his contract following 2022 which might save $20 million in lifeless cap in comparison with in the event that they lower him in 2023 or 2024), nevertheless it’s time to let him be a veteran mentor.
The Lions have been too unhealthy for too lengthy to not go after a franchise cornerstone who can carry the crew for a decade, and a chance to draft within the top-ten probably received’t be taking place once more for years. Pull the set off. Don’t play it secure. Draft the Goff alternative.