Detroit Lions Rebuild: What To Do at Quarterback?


Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The offseason of 2009 was an exciting one.  I mean, yeah, the Detroit Lions were just coming off the worst single season performance in NFL history, one that hadn’t occurred before or since without involving a world war, strike, or expansion, but it was exciting nonetheless.  The team was rebuilding, something they hadn’t done in nearly a decade, having instead spent the 2000s digging the deepest hole the league had ever seen.  Most folks, many here at SideLion Report included, believe this present team still has too much talent to fall back to rebuilding mode.  The Detroit Lions, under newly vocal owner Martha Ford, disagree and are rebuilding anyway. What does that mean, though?

I’m going to lay out several facts that we as Detroit Lions football fans are going to have to come to terms with.  Some of them are obvious, we all know Jim Caldwell won’t be wearing Honolulu Blue in 2016.  Some are a little more discreet, while others still will be downright uncomfortable.

A Rebuilding Team Needs a Quarterback

I said that some of them were going to be obvious.  This is a no brainer.  Look at any team that has went through a rebuild.  The New England Patriots lucked into their QB of the future in 2000, but most teams take the more traditional route of picking a Quarterback with their first, occasionally second round pick.  You can take your pick for recent examples, with the Colts, Raiders, and Panthers headlining.

The Detroit Lions are in a unique position in that they already have a young, talented quarterback on the roster.  I’ve spoken before about how trading Matthew Stafford in 2015 was impossible, and unlikely in 2016.  Then, I was under the assumption that there would be changes at the top but not groundbreaking ones.  Martha Ford had different ideas.  It would be difficult, but isn’t completely insane for the Lions to move on from Matthew Stafford in 2016.  It also isn’t crazy that they will hold off on moving Stafford but will draft a quarterback highly anyway.  Until the team has a new General Manager, nothing is off the table.

Matthew Stafford has shown that he can lead a team to the playoffs, even a flawed team.  He has also shown a commitment to the city of Detroit that I can’t remember seeing from any Lions quarterback in my lifetime.  It’s completely possible and indeed likely that the new general manager for the Detroit Lions tries to move forward with the rebuild with good ole number 9 at the helm.

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The free agent pool at quarterback is a dumpster fire, so I’m not going to go into much detail there.

What other options are there?  Each of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft class come with a list of technical flaws that will need cleaning up before they could be counted upon to lead an NFL team.  Connor Cook is a big armed QB with enough mobility and touch to build upon as a pro, but questions about his leadership ability might turn a team looking to rebuild away.  Jared Goff is truly a leader of his team, but his arm strength is middling at best and there are concerns he couldn’t lead a complex, NFL style offense.  Paxton Lynch has all of the tools to be successful, but the level of competition he’s faced and concerns over his ability to read a complex defense make him a big risk.

What do you think?  Is Matthew Stafford the face of the franchise in 2016 and beyond?  Or does the team swing for the fences with a risky draft prospect in a draft most consider weak at quarterback?  Maybe you have another suggestion?  Let us know in the comments or contact us on Twitter @SideLionReport or myself @Mathbomb!

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