The Detroit Lions have endured a tough start to the 2021 season, not winning a single game as of yet. All of that frustration has been bad news for the team and the fans, but there is an underrated positive to all of the early defeats.
Once again, the Lions look to be positioning themselves for a top pick in the 2022 NFL draft. Thus far, the Lions are one of the two worst teams in the league in 2021, and that’s put them near the top of the presumptive pick standings for this season already.
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Already, some projections are beginning to show up as it relates to who will go where in the draft. Analyst Matt Miller with TheDraftScout.com put together his Week 6 mock, and while the Lions didn’t earn the overall top pick, they still came away with the top quarterback in Malik Willis with the second-overall selection next year.
As for why, Miller wrote that he believes the Lions brass will want their own young quarterback to work with, and Willis has some great athletic traits to boost his stock up the board.
Detroit has Jared Goff right now, but little else behind him and could look to upgrade the position early on in the draft. In spite of this, the team has plenty of offensive and defensive needs across the roster, so it would also come as no surprise if the team simply wanted to look to build around Goff for the near future given his contract.
Willis’s College Stats and Highlights
Willis will likely be one of the most intriguing prospects to play during the rest of the 2021 college football season, and he already has some intriguing numbers to boast. Ahead of his senior year on the field, Willis has put up 2,319 passing yards and 23 touchdowns. He also has 1,253 rushing yards and 16 scores on the ground to his credit. Here’s some highlights:
Thus far this year, Willis has been no slouch with the numbers either, putting up 13 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions with 1,327 yards passing through six games.
With the NFL transitioning to mobile quarterbacks who can throw and run, Willis figures to be one of the outstanding evaluations coming up for teams. He’s shown the ability to do both in his career thus far, which might only impress a potentially quarterback needy team like Detroit even more. If there’s one early question about Willis, it’s the level of competition he is facing at Liberty. That hasn’t hurt other elite quarterbacks like Buffalo’s Josh Allen, though.
Lions Battling Jaguars, Others for Top Pick in 2022 Draft
Right now, Detroit’s 0-5 record is good for a tie with Jacksonville for the worst in the league. Other 1-4 teams with potentially bleak futures are hanging around in the standings as well, including the New York Jets and Houston Texans. Those rosters might find it difficult to win many games this year just like the Lions and Jaguars, so it will be an interesting battle to see who can become the worst team in the league in order to land the top pick in the draft once more.
Even though the Lions have been a hard-charging, motivated team, Detroit is taking on the look of one of the most injury-riddled rosters in the NFL so far this season having lost multiple key starters to season ending ailments on the field. That in of itself could help in positioning the team for a run at a high pick by the time the end of the season rolls around.
For right now, many see quarterback being the spot the Lions will turn to when all is said and done next year. There’s still a long way to go with the season and jockeying for position with draft picks, though, and a lot could always change.
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