Lions 2022 NFL Draft: Quarterback prospect draws Matthew Stafford comparison
As the Detroit Lions seek their next franchise quarterback, a prospect tied to them in some mock drafts has drawn a comp to Matthew Stafford.
For 12 seasons, despite a lack of team success, Matthew Stafford justified his status as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. An early career narrative he was injury-prone gave way to 136 straight regular season starts before a back injury cost him the second half of the 2019 season.
The consensus looking toward the 2022 NFL Draft says there is no quarterback prospect worth of the No.1 overall pick, and for some none are even top-10 worthy. To put it bluntly, there is no Stafford, Trevor Lawrence, Andrew Luck, etc. type of quarterback prospect in the 2022 class. For the Lions, who are on a fast-track to a top-five pick, that’s not good news as they go through a gap year (or two) with Jared Goff.
But the Lions have two first-round picks in next April’s draft, with the second coming via the trade that sent Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams last offseason. Taking a quarterback with that late first-rounder is certainly a possibility.
Lions 2022 draft: QB prospect draws comparison to Stafford
Entering the season, North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell was considered a candidate to be the first quarterback drafted–and possibly go first overall. That idea went away quickly with a rough showing in a season-opening loss to Virginia Tech, though Howell has played better lately.
Howell has been a popular pick to the Lions with that second first-round pick in some recent mock drafts. Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports tabbed Howell to Detroit at No. 29 overall as the third quarterback drafted, with this to say about the pick.
"Howell has been up and down this season for the Tar Heels, and we wouldn’t take him in Round 1, but the Lions are desperate to find their next franchise QB. Howell has shown glimpses of Matthew Stafford-level gunslingin’, though the consistency just hasn’t been there."
Wilson acknowledged how he, and the CBS Sports draft analysts as a group despite some evidence to the contrary, apparently don’t necessarily view Howell as a first-round pick on pure merit. But “the Lions are desperate to find their next franchise QB”, with the mention of “Matthew Stafford-level gunslingin” to really get Lions’ fans and followers stoked.
Former NFL head coach Brian Billick likes to say “need is a terrible evaluator”. Howell may indeed be the pick for the Lions late in the first round come April. But they shouldn’t take him out of desperation, need or whatever other word that can or will be eventually used to convey they have to come out of the first round with a quarterback.
If a quarterback is the best player on their board when that pick, on track to be in the 25-30 range, comes, then the Lions should take him. Otherwise, waiting until Day 2 to potentially take a quarterback will be fine. Some draft analysts will think (or continue to think) Detroit should have great desperation to find their next Stafford, but it’s just not rooted in the reality of the 2022 draft class.