After a dreadful 3-12-1 season for the Detroit Lions, they have secured the third overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. With this great opportunity, the Lions have the potential to turn their franchise around with over $50 million dollars in salary cap space.
Let’s look at all the options that the Lions have at No. 3, including the good, the bad and a bold suggestion that could alter the Lions for good.
Best case: There are two ways the Detroit Lions can really capitalize on this high draft pick.
- Defensive end Chase Young at 3rd overall could transform this defense.
Young is without question the best player in this class. The edge rusher at Ohio State put up ridiculous stats while constantly seeing double and triple team blocks. With 16.5 sacks on the season, Young has the stats and athletic ability to justify his high regard as a draft prospect. Joe Burrow is going to go to Cincinnati with the first pick, but Washington at two is a little more interesting. Drafting Young seems like a no brainer for the Redskins, but the strong suit of their roster is the defensive line. Players such as Ryan Kerrigan, Jonathon Allen, Matt Ioannidis and Da’Ron Payne lead a formidable group. There is an outside chance that they do not take Young at second overall, which means he would fall right into the Lions’ lap at three.
- Trading back in the draft to acquire future assets.
With such a nice pick and an established quarterback in Matthew Stafford, they would most likely have their pick of the next best playmaker outside of Chase Young. There are plenty of teams behind them that are looking for their future quarterback, such as the Dolphins and Chargers. The best way for the Lions to win this season’s draft is to show interest in taking one of these first round QBs and hope that Miami and L.A. offer up draft packages to trade up for the third pick. Falling back to pick five or six would allow the Lions to acquire an additional first or second round pick in this years’ draft from either of these teams. The dropoff when falling back is non-existent for non-quarterback positions, so Ohio State corner Jeff Okudah or Clemson linebacker/safety Isaiah Simmons will still be on the draft board. Drafting Simmons seems to be the perfect fit as he would bolster a slow linebacking core and help the defense at every level. Auburn D-Lineman Derrick Brown is also a great replacement for Damon “Snacks” Harrison if he chooses to retire. Any of these players at pick six have the potential to be a future star in the league.
Worst case: It is tough to screw up the third overall pick, but here is how the Lions could do so.
- Staying put at three and taking one of the players listed above.
There are multiple teams looking to move up and take a quarterback, so these same defensive players will be available at pick five or six. Taking any one of Okudah, Simmons or Brown would be a reach. Obviously, if no one wants to trade up, this would be fine but there is little chance of them not receiving phone calls for the pick. All three of these players are extremely talented, but there is no reason they cannot get some extra assets along with one of them.
- Trade Slay, draft Okudah anywhere.
If this team is shooting for the playoffs next season, as owner Martha Ford indicates, then this move makes absolutely no sense. The point of this pick is to make the team better and ready to win as indicated by Ford’s ultimatum on the Quinn-Patricia project. As a result, trading your best defensive player for pennies on the dollar and drafting his replacement makes no sense. This is, however, a very Bob Quinn-like move to trade a player that has expressed his emotions to the media all season and demands a new contract. Please do not do this Bob, for all Lions fans’ sake.
Dream scenario: Lions draft Tua Tagovailoa and trade Matthew Stafford
This is a controversial move among Lions supporters, but one that is starting to gain steam. He has the chance to be better than Burrow and the next star in this league for years to come, but he comes with enormous risk. Coming off of hip surgery and a year filled with ankle problems, the Alabama star has proven to have issues with injuries. His talent, however, remains off the charts though. He has a cannon of an arm, is extremely accurate and can move around in the pocket when needed to. The fact that he is a left-handed quarterback should not scare anyone from his talent level. If the Lions do end up taking him with the third pick, it will be the most excitement in Detroit sports since the Tigers made it to the ALCS in 2013.
Trading Matthew Stafford is a really sad thing to put in a dream scenario. But it is becoming a reality for the Lions. Stafford is hands down the greatest QB in Lions history and is still among the elite quarterbacks in the league entering his 11th season. So why trade him? Stafford has now faced two back injuries in a row after being the iron man at QB for his first nine seasons. The fear of him going down with another injury is in every fan’s mind as we head into the 2020 season. The Lions could feasibly get one or two first rounders from a QB desperate team (Buccaneers, Chargers, or…Patriots?) for Stafford. It may be time for us to move on from Stafford and draft this potential future star as his successor. It will be sad to see Stafford leave, as he deserves all of the love he gets from Detroit sports fans. Maybe he could win that elusive ring with another team and establish himself among the elites in the game. Both Lions fans and Stafford need a fresh start. Let’s make it happen Quinn.