5. LB Patrick Queen
The Lions got a late-round steal in Malcolm Rodriguez in last year’s draft, but the starting linebacker spot next to him is a long-term question. Queen went 28th in the 2020 draft to the Baltimore Ravens, so maybe he’d have been someone to take after a a trade down from No. 3.
But there’s no doubt Queen has been the kind of playmaking linebacker the Lions have lacked and still need, making dents in the stat sheet as a run defender, in pass coverage and as a pass rusher (five sacks and 24 pressures in 2022).
4. QB Justin Herbert
Jared Goff should not be the long-term answer under center for the Lions, and before he was actually traded in 2021 trade rumors had occassionally previously popped up around Matthew Stafford. There should have been some eye on the future under center in the 2020 draft, but Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia were trying to save their jobs and win (and that clearly went well). Drafting a quarterback in the top-five when Stafford was in place as the starter was just not on the radar.
Herbert stepped in immediately for the Chargers, well actually Week 2 of his rookie season after an odd mistake by the medical staff with Tyrod Taylor. All he’s done is throw for the most yards through the first three seasons of a career (14,089) in NFL history, with a touchdown-to-interception rate nearing 3:1 (94 touchdowns, 35 interceptions) and raw physical tools that few quarterbacks in the league can match.
Herbert is lined up for a big contract now, so there is that in the big picture. But imagine him in a Lions’ uniform….there would be no conversation about who is the quarterback of the future in Detroit.