The Detroit Lions got some big news on the NFL Draft front this week with the news that Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was declaring for 2020.
That news seems to be positive for the Lions, who have the No. 3 pick in the draft and could now be in the drivers seat to have some major decisions impacted by the quarterback. Namely, the Lions could draft Tagovailoa or they could hold their pick for a kings ransom for teams that are interested in his services.
Would the Lions take Tagovailoa though? It might not be the worst idea, but it might not be something that is on tap, either.
According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, while Tagovailoa offers something tantalizing, the expectation is Detroit will not draft him but hope to use him as leverage. Here’s a look at what he wrote:
“Under different circumstances, the chance to add a player like Tagovailoa might be too appealing for the Lions to pass up. Tagovailoa could spend 2020 apprenticing under Stafford, much like Patrick Mahomes did with the Kansas City Chiefs for a season, and be healthy and ready to take over before the Lions have to pay Stafford a $10 million roster bonus in March of 2021.
But Tagovailoa’s extensive injury history – his ability to work out for teams in the pre-draft process remains in doubt as he recovers from his dislocated hip – and the team’s other needs make that an unlikely option for the Lions.
More feasible is that Quinn makes the pick at No. 3 or trades out of the Lions’ draft spot, something he’s never done in the first round in his four previous drafts as general manager.”
Even such, the specter of Tagovailoa will loom large over Detroit when they pick. The decision to auction the pick, make it or monitor what happens above them or below them will be huge for the Lions and their overall options for 2020.
Recent Lions Draft Results
After a tough 6-10 finish to the 2018 season, Detroit finished with a top 10 pick at No. 8. They were able to snag tight end T.J. Hockenson, who’s been one of the offensive bright spots thus far this season. That proves overall how a painful finish can lead to some better players.
As a whole, Detroit has done a decent job in recent drafts getting talent that can compete on the roster immediately. Last season’s top three picks are playing a major role for the team this season. Names such as Taylor Decker, Kenny Golladay, Jarrad Davis, Graham Glasgow and Tracy Walker are also playing a big role for the team when they are healthy and engaged.
While there have been a few mistakes, Bob Quinn has done a decent job to identify talent with some of the picks he has made thus far during his tenure in the Motor City. Another high pick gives him a chance at adding another impact player to the squad.
That will be true whether the team sticks at the spot, drafts Tagovailoa or deals the pick away via trade.
Lions Biggest 2020 NFL Draft Need is Defensive End
It doesn’t seem all that feasible Detroit cannot pressure the quarterback meaningfully in 2019, something that has been painfully obvious for weeks 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 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.
Whether Okudah or Young, the Lions could score with a pair of Buckeyes in 2020. It seems more likely that the team would draft them rather than Tagovailoa.