Lions Pushed to Add ‘NFL-Ready’ PAC-12 QB Early During 2023 Draft

Tanner McKee

Getty Tanner McKee runs off the field in 2022 after a touchdown.

The Detroit Lions have filled plenty of needs capably this offseason, but some spots of need continue to stand out on the roster as free agency pushes toward its third full week.

In terms of what’s next, the Lions could still have a major need at quarterback for the rest of the offseason, and that could be a move they choose to wait until the draft to make.

As mock draft season continues, the Lions also continue to be matched up with players at the position. A recent quarterback-centric mock provided fans with a name that many folks may not have yet considered during the process.

Writer Michael Renner picked out a quarterback for every team in a recent 2023 mock draft, and when it came to the Lions, he had them landing Stanford’s Tanner McKee in the third-round with the the 81st overall pick.

As Renner wrote, McKee is plenty like Jared Goff, which could make his transition to the NFL and the Lions seamless. It would also give the team a solid insurance policy for the future on their starter.

“McKee would make sense for the Lions in that he plays the position similarly to Goff and shouldn’t have much of a learning curve with the NFL readiness he showed at Stanford. He is not only a cheap insurance option this season, but he’ll also be entering the vaunted Year 3 of his rookie deal when Goff’s contract is set to expire,” Renner wrote in the piece.

As the offseason has evolved, more Detroit needs on defense have been eliminated, which could theoretically leave the Lions open to adding a quarterback earlier. The Lions have four picks in the first two rounds of the draft, which could mean they are in good position to land a prospect somewhere relatively quickly.

McKee hasn’t vaulted up draft boards yet, but in terms of a sensible pick, he could be one for the Lions. If Detroit wanted to add impact players with their first four selections, the idea of adding McKee to compete and develop in round three is intriguing for the team.

In a year full of mock options, McKee is yet another name that Lions fans will have to keep tabs on during the process this year.

Lions Could Look at Drafting a Quarterback

Whether it’s with McKee or another player, the Lions are likely to look at a quarterback solution from the 2023 NFL draft as the process plays out.

Many could discount the need for quarterbacks because the team has a resurgent Goff on the roster, but it’s clear that Brad Holmes is interested in an upgrade at the position.

Goff’s backup last season was Nate Sudfeld, who re-signed with the team last week. Bringing a veteran back into the mix could ensure the Lions are covered directly in the event Goff were to go down. After that, the Lions could look at adding a developmental piece.

That fact feels especially true after hearing Holmes analyze the quarterback position this offseason. As he explained, the team has to do a better job of rectifying the position for the future on the roster, and having a player behind Goff could make sense.

Clearly, the Lions are going to be in the market for something at the position, and there are interesting players as the draft board is examined. The Lions might be too close to contention to roll the dice on a top name early on, but they could certainly add a player on day two.

In addition to McKee, one name to remember as a fit is Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker, another potential day-two selection in the draft.

Hooker has shown during his time in college he can be an explosive playmaker. The quarterback put up 3,135 yards and 27 touchdowns to just two interceptions in 2022 as a leading Heisman Trophy candidate, he also was felled by a torn ACL in November of last year.

That injury may have pushed him down the board a bit, but in this instance, it could be to Detroit’s advantage. Behind Goff, Hooker could get the kind of hands-on experience and time to grow in the league that he needs.

Whether McKee or Hooker, the Lions could be a better bet to land a young quarterback on day two of the NFL draft.

Tanner McKee’s College Stats & Highlights

If McKee isn’t on the radar of many folks at this point firmly, that would make sense. The quarterback played in college for a Stanford team that struggled during the 2022 season significantly with a 3-9 finish.

Obviously, that doesn’t mean that McKee isn’t talented himself, of course. The quarterback has put up some solid stats during his career with the Cardinal, posting 5,336 yards and 28 career touchdowns to 15 interceptions through his three years on the field in school.

Here’s a look at the highlights, which show McKee as a prototypical pocket passer with a big arm.

Obviously, McKee is not one of the bigger-name quarterbacks in this class, so for that reason, the projection might draw some scrutiny from fans. He’s also more of a pocket passer like Goff, which might turn some folks off who are looking for something different at the position in terms of scrambling ability.

Still, McKee could be an answer at backup for the Lions, and that could make him plenty appealing when all is said and done. He’s simply another name to remember as the draft process continues.

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