If the Detroit Lions ever want to become an elite franchise, they need to start upgrading at all positions. The Lions need an elite quarterback.
The Detroit Lions seem destined to screw up this year’s draft right from the get-go with the third overall pick. Sitting in front of this team is the opportunity to change the franchise’s consistent downward trajectory. But all signs point to this team playing it safe, instead of investing in the future.
The franchise is in love with quarterback Matthew Stafford because he has played better than any previous man-under-center in the franchise’s history. Yet – and the team shares in the blame for this – the Stafford tenure has resulted in zero division titles and no playoff victories.
The reason that the team has to shoulder some of the blame is that Matthew has never been surrounded by a Super Bowl worthy roster. This team has fouled up plenty of management decisions, draft choices, free agent moves, and coaching choices over Stafford’s career.
Six decades of ineptitude has given this franchise the reputation for being among the worst in the NFL. But at some point, you just become an afterthought that no one cares about anymore. Their only chance at this point is the acquisition of elite talent.
There could possibly be such an elite talent in this year’s draft in the form of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. And because Tua plays quarterback, he could really have an impact on this team’s win-loss record.
Most draft experts have the Detroit Lions selecting Ohio State cornerback Jeffrey Okudah. He is a fine player for sure, but truly not worthy of a selection at the number three spot.
On Tuesday’s The Herd, host Colin Cowherd talked about the Detroit Lions need for a significant talent upgrade. Colin’s reasoning was that the Lions aren’t only a bad franchise, but are a boring one as well. Here’s Cowherd’s take via Fox Sports Radio.
"“You’re trying to draft someone who changes your future … Detroit is a bad franchise … Detroit’s bad and boring. I keep reading all these mock drafts and they’re taking a cornerback? Oh, boy. That’s a game changer. That will get them from fourth to third in the division. Go draft a quarterback … I like Matthew Stafford but put him on the market and see what you can get. Eleven years and zero playoff wins, no division titles. What’s the loyalty?”"
This is a big moment for the Detroit Lions. A quarterback with an extremely high ceiling is just waiting to be plucked by them, and, instead, the team is focusing on a cornerback. And, legitimately, this probably is the thinking in Allen Park.
Huge talents can mean changing this franchise for the next decade-plus. Cowherd mentioned trading Stafford and seeing what the team can get. But with Tua’s injury, Stafford is the perfect bridge (and mentor) for Tua, as he heals and adjusts to the pro game.
On the other end of the spectrum, trading Stafford away (coupled with drafting Tua now) could mean tanking for another year with whoever the signal-caller will be in 2020. If it is either of last year’s back-up quarterbacks Jeff Driskel or David Blough, the concern will not be whether or not the team is tanking, but whether or not the team can secure at least one win – nobody wants another winless season like 2008.
But these kinds of changes take a real long-term commitment to winning. And the Detroit Lions don’t seem to care that much about winning Super Bowls.
The Lions win in the mediocrity department. A playoff appearance once in a while, and promises that they will be tough and continually fire the people in charge of the team.
Honestly, drafting Tagovailoa would be the death-knell for general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia. The cornerback is an imaginary bandage on the open wound that is this organization. It makes everyone feel good about the safe pick. And the spin will be that Okudah is some kind of building block.
In reality, it is just another symptom of the losing culture of this team. It is hard to believe that Quinn and Patricia really want to change things when Okudah is their planned choice. But then the real problems begin with ownership. The Ford family puts on the tough act just to keep up appearances.
Sadly, if ownership were on board for a long-term plan, these would be actual steps towards becoming a champion. Instead, the team will go with what has worked for decade after decade. Just appear like you care about winning, and continue to disappoint fans when you don’t.
If the Detroit Lions let another big talent like Tagovailoa go to another team, they will not win anytime soon. And when the team passes on Tua, it will be one of the clearest signs that this organization has no intention of ever being a contender.