The Detroit Lions have a decision to make this offseason in terms of what they do at quarterback, but it has little to do with the future of Matthew Stafford.
Stafford remains entrenched as the starter, and that is not likely to change whatsoever in the months ahead. What could change dramatically is the players he has behind him as backups.
After a season in which the team struggled after Stafford’s injury, the Lions could be looking to shake things up at backup, and could get a head start on doing just that with their analysis at the Senior Bowl. This week, Yahoo writer Eric Edholm put together a list of players to watch at the event the Lions will be coaching, and it just so happened a quarterback was on the list.
When it came to quarterback, Washington State’s Anthony Gordon is the name to watch for the Lions according to Edholm, and he wondered if the team would be even more focused on him given they will coach his team closest of all.
Here’s a look at what he wrote:
“We’re legitimately excited, from an evaluation standpoint, to see how Gordon throws. He went from not getting much Division-I recruiting interest, to throwing five passes in 2018 (behind Gardner Minshew) to two years later leading the nation in passing yards.
Gordon’s size is a worry — we’ll see in the official measurements, but he looks to be about 6-foot-2, 205 pounds. He also is changing footwork from the shotgun-based Air Raid system and will need to show he can drop back and throw from under center.
Still, there are enough positives here to be intrigued. As long as Gordon performs well here, we think he’ll go higher than Minshew did. He’ll be coached by the Detroit Lions, who had few answers when Matthew Stafford got hurt last season. Could Gordon win the Lions’ staff over this week with a strong performance?”
The Lions will have to have an open mind about tons of prospects this year, and Gordon could be the next Washington State quarterback to take the league by storm. He put up solid statistics with the Cougars in 2019, putting up 689 yards and 48 touchdowns as a starter.
We’ll see if Detroit having an up close look at him this week makes a difference in the end.
Why Lions Need a Quarterback in 2020 NFL Draft
The Lions haven’t committed to grooming a young quarterback. Perhaps they think Jeff Driskel can be their backup, and Driskel did a decent job to hold down the fort in Stafford’s absence even though the team hasn’t won games for him. Behind Driskel, however, there is a major hole. Detroit could look to develop David Blaugh, but some type of premium has to be placed on the backup position as the team is learning. Developing a capable backup would be a huge advantage for the Lions moving forward and it’s something they should think about addressing in 2020 so that they can feel more comfortable with where their roster is at.
Bet on the Lions analyzing the position strictly when all is said and done in the months ahead.
Lions Biggest 2020 NFL Draft Need is Defensive End
While quarterback is a need, it’s far from the team’s biggest. Detroit cannot pressure the quarterback meaningfully in 2019, something that has been painfully obvious and that is a glaring problem given what the team has done to add to the front in recent months and years. Part of the problem has been injury, but beyond Trey Flowers and Da’Shawn Hand, the Lions simply don’t have any young building blocks they can count on right now. The team has to find some form of consistency in the trenches, and that is why it’s a major need for them moving forward.
If the draft were held today, the Lions would have to target some type of defensive end or pass rush specialist highly, and Chase Young would be the top option if he were there. Without a few impact players here in 2020, it’s tough to imagine the Lions turning their defensive fortunes around.
In the event Young wasn’t on the board, the Lions would likely be content to grab Jeff Okudah. While defensive end is the biggest need on the team, cornerback isn’t far behind. Detroit’s backfield has been searching in vain for another top flight cornerback for some time, and Okudah could give them just the right mix at the spot. Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown figures to get in the mix as well.
Whether Okudah or Young, the Lions could score with a pair of Buckeye defenders. With Brown, they could get a top SEC player. Either way, defense could be on the menu most of all.
Even in spite of this, don’t forget about the quarterback position for the Lions this year.