Are the Lions rebuilding or ready to be a contender?
With the second week of the off-season free agency period drawing to a close, the majority of NFL teams have concluded the pursuits of their most highly sought-after players either by finalizing deals with them or unfortunately losing out on the draw. For the Detroit Lions, general manager Brad Holmes and the front office staff have managed to address and reinforce some of the team’s opportunistic needs at offensive and defensive positions by securing veteran players at a fairly cost-effective rate.
For the most part, the prominent free agency moves around the league have already been declared and most team’s grandest voids have been filled. Front offices have now set their sights on the upcoming draft that is nearly a month away. With in-house college pro days taking place earlier this week, the Lions sent both general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell to visit amongst a crowded number of teams hitting the BYU campus to scout quarterback Zach Wilson’s performance.
Expectedly, draft talk around the league is heating up with squads in roster building mode preparing to exercise options aimed at elevating their position within the upcoming draft to land their future stars. Au contraire, the league’s longstanding contenders are figuring ways of stacking draft capital for subsequent years by leveraging their current assets.
While the Lions are clearly in rebuild mode, some analysts firmly believe that recent moves announced by other teams drafting within the top ten all signal towards the Lions landing a non-quarterback candidate with their upcoming seventh pick in the draft. Questions have also been raised regarding the potential effectiveness of the team’s current wide receiver corps and their ability to help Jared Goff be successful in his first season with the squad.
After all, it was recently announced that the Lions had come to terms with quarterback Jared Goff on restructured contract terms that would help the team generate nearly $15 million in salary cap space to play with for the 2021 season. In a seemingly favorable move for both sides, it would be surprising to see the front office turn around and draft a quarterback with their first-round pick rather than grant the young two-time Pro Bowl quarterback the opportunity to showcase his talents and prove his worthiness.
Instead, it would serve as a morally reassuring measure for Goff, and within the locker room, if the front office moved towards surrounding their inbound quarterback with the talent he needs to be as successful as possible in his debut season.
What better place to start than with the men he will be throwing the long ball to down the planks? If the team does opt to focus on the wide receiver position, the likelihood of a college standout being available is strong based on this year’s heavy interest in the quarterback position.
There is wide consensus amongst most analysts that four quarterbacks are very likely to be selected within the top ten picks of the upcoming draft: Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, BYU’s Zach Wilson, Ohio State’s Justin Fields, and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance are touted to be those selections.
If it does in fact play out the way the analysts are forecasting, that leaves a pool of candidates such as the likes of Devonta Smith, Ja’Marr Chase, Kyle Pitts, and Jaylen Waddle for the Lions to potentially choose from with the seventh selection. All of which may very well be the NFL’s next big thing at the wideout position.
In a recent interview, Brad Holmes was sound in his declaration that when you’re picking inside the top ten, you cannot overlook any position. This may serve as a tell-tale sign as to why the team attended Zach Wilson’s college pro day earlier this week. Considering the talent pool available, it is extremely reasonable to discern that the Lions may be considering a quarterback selection in the upcoming draft.
While outside forces around the league are making the prospect of a Detroit Lions first-round quarterback selection seem less appealing; what remains to be known is whether or not the team is confident with the talent they currently have on the roster, or if they feel there is still a long way to go in terms of the re-tooling process. Their upcoming first-round draft selection or prospective draft move will shed the most light on that speculative factor.