The Detroit Lions haven’t had a league MVP on their side since the days of Barry Sanders, but a new piece is helping everyone to dream what it would be like if they did.
Recently, ESPN looked at re-drafting the NFL based on this season’s draft order, meaning the Lions would have the No. 3 pick of any player in the league on any team. The draft went only 4 rounds, and as expected, the Lions landed a major difference maker. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was selected with writer Michael Rothstein’s top pick.
Off the board already were Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson, leaving Detroit to scoop up the most recent MVP.
“I thought about defense at No. 3 overall, but taking a quarterback seemed like a must. And when Jackson — who I thought would go No. 1 or No. 2 — fell to me, it seemed too good to be true. Beyond that, I made the decision to go with two defensive players before the draft even started, given the league’s lean toward passing. Since I couldn’t find any young pass-rushers I loved on the board when I was again on the clock, I instead decided to make my secondary dominant with James and White. And then I gave Jackson a speedy option to work with in Moore, who can line up almost anywhere.”
From there, Rothstein did plenty to help the team’s defense, picking up safety Derwin James with the team’s second selection at No. 62 overall. Then, at No. 67, Rothstein grabbed cornerback Tre’Davious White. Finally, with the team’s final selection, Rothstein grabbed a weapon for Jackson in wideout DJ Moore.
Perhaps ironically, the Ravens ended up grabbing Matthew Stafford with No. 28 pick in the draft courtesy of Jamison Hensley, who wrote that the team needed a quarterback with his arm in the AFC North.
“As one team official said long ago, you need a strong-armed quarterback to compete in the AFC North. Stafford was too obvious. The only other worthy quarterbacks available were either too young (Tua Tagovailoa) or too risky because of health (Cam Newton).”
Obviously, from the Detroit perspective, adding players like this would help the team overall given their need for excitement and playmaking on the roster. While the other players are all solid, the headliner in this case is Jackson given all the things he has brought to the league in such a short period of time.
Otherwise, other Detroit players going in this draft were Kenny Golladay (Buccaneers) and Jeff Okudah (Falcons). Former Lions cornerback Darius Slay went to the Packers.
Lions 2020 Draft Class
The Lions had a busy weekend a few months back with their real 2020 class, picking up cornerback Jeff Okudah, running back D’Andre Swift, guard Jonah Jackson, edge rusher Julian Okwara, guard Logan Stenberg, wideout Quintez Cephus, running back Jason Huntley, defensive tackle John Penisini and defensive lineman Jashon Cornell. As a whole, the draft class was solid in plenty of ways. Detroit addressed some of their biggest needs including a new cornerback as well as toughness on the offensive and defensive lines. They also added a potentially elite runner in Swift.
Many have graded the draft highly as a result, and it looks as if the Lions may have even found a few steals along the way to help them out as well. They might have scored one of the best classes in the league as a result.
The hope is this group can become elite in time where re-drafts have them sky high.
Lamar Jackson Stats
This past season, Jackson has been the epitome of a dual-threat quarterback and one of the leaders in the next generation of quarterbacks that will make waves in the league. After the action concluded last week, Jackson has put up 3,127 passing yards and 36 touchdowns through the air. On the ground, he has rumbled for 1,206 yards and 7 touchdowns. As a whole, the Ravens have managed to find the best of Jackson on the field. Arguably, he’s become the most obvious MVP candidate in the league given these types of things and has begun to rewrite the book in the league in terms of what a quarterback is and can be. The fact that he was a shoo-in as an All-Pro is a testament to how good Jackson has been in 2019.
Obviously, Lions fans can dream about having such a player on their side. They’ll just have to hope someone on their roster can step up and deliver some results this season and take over this kind of exciting conversation on their own end.