The Detroit Lions might decide to attack the quarterback position this offseason, and if they do, the NFL draft is looking like it will present them with a big opportunity.
Not only are there the usual middle-to-late round picks to be had at the position, but there is also some elite players that could be lurking earlier. The Lions will have to decide between now and late April if any of those players make sense for them.
Perhaps the best example of one of those players is Florida’s Anthony Richardson, a high-rising quarterback that is seen as perhaps the most interesting player in the draft. Already, NFL.com and analyst Lance Zierlein took a look at projecting who was most likely to land the prospect. Detroit was on his list, although not quite with the best chance.
As Zierlein explained, the Lions “make so much sense” for Richardson mostly based on the fact that they are building something for the future, but questions continue to persist about Jared Goff’s viability long-term.
Enter Richardson, perhaps, a player that Zierlein gave in his estimation a 15% chance to land with the Lions in the draft. As he said,
“The Lions could take Richardson at either Pick No. 6 or 18, using the other first-rounder to fill a cornerback need. Detroit could allow the raw quarterback to marinate for a season, easing him into the NFL in a reserve role and possibly deploying him at times with a specific set of plays. (With Ben Johnson remaining in the fold as offensive coordinator, this attack certainly won’t be lacking in creativity.) Then, if Goff isn’t extended, he’ll likely be a cost-saving cut next year, with Richardson sliding right into a starting role for an ascending NFC team,” Zierlein wrote in the piece.
Detroit has Goff already entrenched as the starter, which could allow for Richardson to come in and get his feet wet slowly as a starter behind the veteran. Brad Holmes has admitted he respects that process for a quarterback.
Perhaps a major hangup, though, is the fact the Lions have major defensive needs. The team could use defensive linemen, cornerbacks or linebackers early in the draft and may not want to take a gamble on a luxury position so soon in the draft.
Regardless, Richardson is now firmly on Detroit’s radar, and the situation will bear watching in the month ahead.
Lions Met With Anthony Richardson During NFL Combine
Adding to the speculation of this entire situation, the Lions wasted little time getting an up-close look at Richardson this week.
Richardson has generated a closer look from nearly half the teams in the league during the NFL combine, and the Lions clearly didn’t want to be an exception to that. As Jordan Schultz of The Score reported, Detroit was amongst the teams sitting down with Richardson at the combine for a meeting.
“Source also says Anthony Richardson has met with the Giants and Lions, as well as a few more teams,” Schultz tweeted.
Where this situation becomes even more interesting for Detroit involves the way the team’s brass has been speaking around the NFL combine. Listening to the front office, it’s clear the quarterback position could be in-focus firmly within the draft this year.
At the combine, Richardson has been speaking confidently, name-dropping that he wishes to be amongst the greats such as Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. That could only add to his overall intrigue as a prospect, given he sounds driven and motivated.
Whether the Lions see through this or agree with Richardson or not is likely to be sorted out in the weeks ahead.
Anthony Richardson’s Stats & Highlights
While he is being mentioned as a top prospect for the 2023 NFL draft, it’s easy to see why some are drawing a parallel between Richardson and the Lions.
At 21, Richardson has age on his side as well as ample time to figure out the position. He has thrown for 3,105 yards, 24 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in college. He’s also run for 1,116 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground.
Richardson is capable of plenty of electric plays as the highlights show, even as he has some questions about his overall game at this stage of his young career.
If Richardson was the pick for the Lions, he would likely be stashed for a few years as he learned the league and position. To that end, he could be an interesting fit for Detroit as some of the insiders seem to believe at this point in time.
Right now, many see the Lions as having an outside chance at landing the quarterback, and also see him as a good fit with the team.