Although members of the Detroit Lions coaching staff and front office may tell you differently, Jared Goff is not the quarterback of the future. He wasn’t bad enough in 2021 to cause the team to make a desperate move to replace him( like the Panthers), but it is clear to everyone who watched the team last year that he is not the answer. However, the 2022 Quarterback class was not good enough for the Lions to take a new shot caller.
A lot of Lions fans would solve this predicament by simply drafting a franchise guy in the upcoming 2023 draft. While this is the most likely path the team will take, there is a lot of fluctuation with draft order. The 2022 version of the Lions is expected to be much improved. Even though they dropped their first game 38-35 against the Eagles, they showed potential to be a playoff competitor this year.
The Lions are placed at 6.5 wins as the benchmark for their 2022 win total over/under. For the sake of the exercise, I have placed Detroit at the 8th pick, ahead of the 4 teams with less projected wins by Bet365 and the 3 with the same amount. The Bears, Jaguars, and Jets are essentially all locks to not take a quarterback. The Texans likely won’t take one either, but they have less stock in their QB than the previously mentioned squads. The Falcons and panthers are also question marks after they each drafted a Quarterback in the 3rd round in 2022. You never know what a team is going to do in the draft, especially so far in advance, but barring a drastic change the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks would be stupid to not take a top collegiate Quarterback come April.
So what would that mean for GM Brad Holmes and company? Well, the consensus top 2 QBs in the class(Bryce Young from Alabama and CJ Stroud from Ohio state) will most likely be off the board if the Lions do get the 8th pick in the draft. However, the 2023 Quarterback class is one of the deepest in recent history, and there are still franchise caliber guys available. Here are 3 guys Lions fans should keep an eye on during draft season.
ANTHONY RICHARDSON, FLORIDA
2021 STATS: INCONCLUSIVE
Anthony Richardson is certainly one of the most intriguing prospects in College Football. While he did play in 2021, it was a very limited sample size. Even in the reduced snaps, he showed incredible physical tools that have NFL scouts gushing over his potential. Being the full time starter in 2022, he now has the chance to play himself into the first round conversation. The Lions would love someone like Richardson, who shows unlimited tools to be a star NFL Quarterback for years to come.
WILL LEVIS, KENTUCKY
2021 STATS: 2826 YARDS, 66% COMPLETION, 24-13 TD-INT, 8.0 YARDS PER ATTEMPT
A more seasoned quarterback than Richardson, Will Levis is a traditional pocket passer who has a strong arm and good character that would match well with the culture in Detroit. However, he is very limited in making passes outside of the play construct. As the NFL shifts to a more backyard football style of QB play, it will be interesting to see how Levis adjusts.
KJ JEFFERSON, ARKANSAS
2021 STATS: 2676 YARDS, 67.3% COMPLETION, 21-4 TD-INT, 9.1 YARDS PER ATTEMPT
Like Richardson, Jefferson is an incredible athlete with a rocket arm. He also has incredible stats. So why is he not getting very much round one hype from scouts? Well, he does not come without flaws. When you watch him play, he’ll play “hero ball” when he doesn’t need to, which leads to poor downfield accuracy. He also tends to run when he doesn’t need to, even though he has the frame to absorb contact in the pocket. With all that said, I am extremely high on KJ Jefferson. I think he will soar up draft boards, and Detroit could use a dual threat quarterback.