The Detroit Lions have seen plenty of changes when it comes to mock drafts, and perhaps the definitive authority on draft projection has made a notable shift for the Lions.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper revealed his newest mock draft in an insider piece just ahead of the NFL Combine, and according to Kiper, there could be a big surprise waiting for fans. Kiper has the Lions drafting Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovaiola with the No. 3 pick in the draft, and he admits they do like what they have seen
Here’s part of what Kiper wrote as to why:
“The Lions say they’re not shopping quarterback Matthew Stafford, but there is some buzz that they like Tagovailoa, who might not work out for teams before April’s draft because of his hip injury. Is that just a smoke screen? We’re still two months away from the draft, of course. Stafford’s contract is extremely tough to trade in 2020 — the team could have up to a $32 million dead-cap hit — but what if Detroit likes Tagovailoa so much that it keeps Stafford on the roster for another year?”
Kiper’s point was more that he believes Tagovailoa goes with the No. 3 pick rather than the Lions being outwardly expected to pick him. he thinks it’s possible someone will trade up to the selection, even though his mock does not factor in trades. Still, it’s more than interesting that he has Tagovailoa going to the Lions at this stage in the game.
ESPN Analyst Wants Tua Tagovailoa With Lions
Kiper isn’t the only one that thinks the Lions should be in play for the quarterback. Detroit must take Tua Tagovailoa according to ESPN’s Bart Scott and start over by dealing Matthew Stafford. It’s the only way Scott sees the team moving forward and crafting a brighter future for themselves.
“I think about that sweet spot. The sweet spot for me is the third pick with the Detroit Lions,” Scott recently said on Get Up. “I don’t see how the Detroit Lions let Tua Tagovailoa get past them.”
According to Scott, who’s said before that Stafford should be on the move via trade this offseason, the timing is perfect for the Lions to start over with a talented young player in Tagovailoa.
“They understand they have had Matthew Stafford. He’s only 31 years old. We’ve seen what it looks like to have Stafford for 11 years. You’re not going to win a Super Bowl with him,” Scott said. “If you’re a struggling coach in this league, you want to press the reset button. You can’t let a guy with arm talent and vision get away. This is your opportunity to get a young gun, start off young, and really be able to trade Matthew Stafford to get some picks to start over with a young core.”
As Scott said, depth should be the first order of business for the Lions, who need to build a more complete team.
“What you need in Detroit is depth, you need talent. The only way you’re going to get talent is by getting rid of your biggest chip, which is Matthew Stafford,” he said.
As it stands now, the Lions have seven draft picks with which to work with this season, including a pair in the fifth round. Adding to that would certainly help them build things up and improve the depth. They could also do this by not trading away Stafford and merely dealing down from their top pick.
Why Lions Could Take Tua Tagovailoa
Could the Lions take the plunge for the pick when all is said and done? According to one top NFL analyst, the answer is yes. According to ESPN’s Mel Kiper, if everything checks out health wise with Tagovailoa, the Lions could decide to select the quarterback with their pick.
Naturally, this could be a smokescreen given draft season is typically lying season. Still, there is no discounting the teams potential need for a quarterback.
Detroit was forced to go with Jeff Driskel and later David Blough as quarterbacks after Matthew Stafford’s injury. Drafting a young quarterback could be considered an important step for the team, but the Lions could also sign a veteran backup instead of drafting a talent like Tagovailoa who could make a case to start faster.
Stafford is still entrenched, so it will be fascinating to see what path Detroit decides to take. For now, Kiper sees that as quarterback.