The Detroit Lions have a big decision to make in a few months when they are on the clock and select with the No. 3 pick in the NFL Draft.
On one hand, the Lions can go with the safe choice and take a defensive lineman or a cornerback. Those are huge needs for the team and either spot would be a slam dunk for Detroit. On the other, the Lions can take the gamble and go with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who offers an intriguing skillset for the team.
It’s not an easy decision for anyone to make much less the Lions, but former NFL general manager and ESPN analyst Mike Tannenbaum recently explained what the team will have to think about. As he said on ESPN’s Get Up, there’s a lot for the Lions to consider, and they are in a tough spot.
“This draft starts at No. 3, no doubt about it,” he said. “Here’s what’s going on in Detroit right now. Long term, turn in the card, it’s Tua. Obviously, incredibly well talented. However, what you’re selling the Ford family if you’re Bob Quinn their general manager, Matt Patricia the head coach, is hey, we were 3-4-1 with a healthy Matthew Stafford. We lost two games by 5 points to Kansas City and Green Bay. And with a healthy Matthew Stafford, we’re tracking really well.”
As Tannenbaum said, it’s a tough situation to be in considering the fact that either outcome could be a good one for the Lions. They could get a great defensive player at the spot, or they could take a chance and draft a player who could become one of the greats.
“It’s an incredible juxtaposition. Short term to survive, they’re better off taking Jeff Okudah, the talented corner from Ohio State,” he said. “Long term, if you’re operating this franchise if you’re the owner, you take Tua because the upside is so compelling.”
Another thing that could complicate the Tagovailoa sweepstakes is the quarterback’s health. It’s said to be in good shape, but the fact that Tagovailoa has had so many injuries could be a complicating factor for teams high in the draft like Detroit, as Tannenbaum explained.
“With Tua, he’s been hurt three times. If I’m sitting there and I’m trying to do what’s best for my franchise, that’s a huge if about him being healthy because he’s had 3 lower body injuries,” he said. “When you get to the pro level where they’re bigger and faster, that’s a huge concern.”
Obviously, the Lions have some decisions that need to be made, and as Tannenbaum explains, they will have to look at all sides in order to come up with a conclusion.
Analyst Explains Where Tua Tagovailoa Gets Drafted
Fox Sports personality Clay Travis sees the Tagovialoa situation as very interesting, and thinks it will be the situation to watch near the top of the draft. At this point, Travis sees it as a slam dunk that Tagovailoa goes high in April.
“Right now, there’s a 100 percent chance in my mind that he’s gone by No. 5. The Miami Dolphins will take him at No. 5 if he’s there,” Travis said in the clip. “The most intriguing part is will someone trade up, maybe to the Washington Redskins pick potentially. Or, could the Detroit Lions decide, you know what, the Matthew Stafford era is never going to really lead to championships, he’s got an issue, maybe move him. Maybe make the decision to go with a young quarterback.”
As Travis said, Tagovailoa could be in play for the Lions thanks to the hope he might give a staff that needs some moving forward.
“Matt Patricia is on the ropes. Best way to guarantee yourself another year often times is to have a young quarterback that you’re developing,” he said. “I think there’s a good chance Tua goes inside the top five. No way he goes beyond the No. 5 pick with the Miami Dolphins, and there could be a lot of drama and interest wit what No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 whether someone tries to trade up and grab him. It’s really going to be fascinating to see.”
There’s been mixed commentary on whether the Lions would take Tagovailoa or not and whether the quarterback would even want to play for the team, but one thing is for certain and it’s his presence will be major near the top of the draft.
Colin Cowherd Explains Lions’ Decision With Tua Tagovailoa
Interestingly, Fox Sports analyst Colin Cowherd took time out to address the Lions situation on his show, and laid out a game plan for what he would do if he were the Lions and their ownership team during the draft and the offseason.
As Cowherd implied, it’s time for the Lions to shake things up and get a bit more interesting, because they’ve been far too passive and boring for years. The only way to do that as he sees it is to draft Tua Tagovailoa and put Matthew Stafford on the trading block.
“Look at the top 10 teams drafting. Who’s the team we’re not talking about? Detroit. Detroit’s a bad franchise. Detroit’s bad and boring. If I ran that franchise or owned it, go draft a quarterback. Nothing against Matt Stafford, but see what you can get. Matt Stafford, 11 years, 0 playoff wins. No division titles. Put him on the market and see what you can get,” he said.
Cowherd said the buzz factor has been lacking with the Lions, and drafting a player like Jeffrey Okudah isn’t going to help that. Instead, he thinks it’s time for the Lions to move on from an average Stafford.
“What’s the loyalty? ‘Well (Stafford’s) the best we’ve ever had.’ That is a you problem. Draft better. If I got Tua, and I got a cornerback from the Big Ten, and I own that team and run that team, who’s changing history? A corner? Yeah that will be exciting. You hear they got a corner in Detroit,” Cowherd said through laughter.
As Cowherd finished, it’s nothing against Stafford personally or professionally, but rather, everything against the way the Lions do business, which is to be both irrelevant and boring as he sees it.
“(Stafford’s) record in the NFL, 69-79-1 as a starter. It’s Andy Dalton with a better arm. I’m not disputing talent but I’m over talent. Win games,” he said. “No. 3 you’re gonna settle for a corner? Roll the dice. And now Stafford is hurt. He’s past his prime, he’s banged up. Great kid. There’s value for Matt Stafford, but the franchise, are you just going to draft a corner? You think that’s going to sell a ticket? That’s going to sell a jersey? Give me a break. Detroit doesn’t have a brand and bad teams do. Roll the dice. Take a risk.”
As boring as a pick like Okudah might be, it could be just what the doctor ordered for a Lions team which was miserable on defense in 2019 and struggled on the back end. Theoretically, the Lions could view it as already having their quarterback in the fold and not needing to take a chance on someone like Tagovailoa, no matter his talent.
It’s an interesting take to say the least, and it only adds to the discussion as it relates to how the Lions should approach this offseason.
Obviously, there’s a lot for the Lions to be thinking about.
READ NEXT: Analyst Slams Lions Organizational Approach