The Lions are apparently in negotiations with QB Matt Stafford to make him the top pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.
A few weeks ago I came out and was against going this route. I still am today. The reason being was that the Lions have too many holes to fill and can’t afford to miss on their top pick - one which will receive $40M in guarantees - like they did on QB Joey Harrington with the 3rd pick in 2002.
And regardless of how much Mel Kiper pumps Stafford up and compares his physical attributes with John Elway, he’s not a can’t miss pick like Elway was.
Our counter argument was to select Baylor LT, Jason Brown. The converted TE has a huge upside and will probably man that position for the next decade. And the most important position on offense besides the QB is the guy assigned to keep him off his back, so the move makes sense.
This is what Miami did by selecting LT Jake Long last year, although in retrospect, they’d probably select QB Matt Ryan if they could do it over again.
But since they appear intent on making Stafford the pick, let’s look at some of the reasons why they’d go this route.
First, if you hit on the top pick and land a franchise QB, it’s well worth it. It’s the most important position on the field and is usually the player that separates the mid-tier teams from the top-tier teams, everything else being equal.
Second, coming off an 0-16 season, Detroit is in a rebuilding process: the entire city, auto dealers, etc. So they’ll be given the time to see this out and that is essential when you’re bringing along a QB.
Third, have you seen WR Calvin Johnson? The guy is a beast and will help speed up any rookie’s learning curve in the NFL. He’ll command double teams from here on out and this will open passing lanes for Stafford to find second and third options.
Fourth, with the No. 20 pick that they received from Dallas for WR Roy Williams, which is looking like an absolute heist in hindsight, they’ll probably use it on one of the falling lineman and grab Mississippi’s Michael Oher to add to the line.
And this appears to have been their goal all along: grab a QB, solidify the line and then shift their focus to the defense.
So if they go this route, things on paper will begin to look a lot brighter in Motown offensively. With RB Kevin Smith, WR Calvin Johnson, an offensive line getting younger and a potential franchise QB in the fold, the pieces are beginning to fall in place to turn the Lions into a competitive organization in two or three years.
And then the rest of the draft they can focus on the defensive side of the ball as they look to get that mess fixed.