3 QBs the Lions Can Draft to Replace Matthew Stafford
Time may be running out for the face of the Detroit Lions franchise, QB Matthew Stafford. Questions continue to surface about his future in Detroit, and more so following the comments by new Lions head coach Dan Campbell.
Stafford remains a top-tier NFL quarterback. He's led the Lions to three postseasons, but has never won a playoff game. The 33-year-old battled through numerous injuries in 2020 and still played in every game. Stafford remains under contract through 2023, but that last season is a voidable deal, which provides both sides flexibility.
With Stafford's status in limbo, here are three quarterbacks the Lions should consider in the 2021 NFL Draft to replace the franchise's all-time best quarterback and former No. 1 overall draft pick.
1. Zach Wilson, QB - BYU Cougars
The Lions are picking in the top 10 for the third consecutive year. At No. 7, they won't get a quarterback of Stafford's ilk to step in, but the best option is Zach Wilson if he falls. Wilson has been skyrocketing up the draft boards and will likely be gone, unless the Jets (No. 2) trade for a quarterback or the Falcons pass. Wilson's ability to throw the ball with timing and anticipation puts him near the top of the class, though Detroit would likely need to trade up to land him.
2. Trey Lance, QB - North Dakota State Bison
Trey Lance is a wild card with just one full season under his belt in 2019 playing against less than top-tier college talent. He played at North Dakota State, who sat out all but one game in 2020 due to the pandemic. But that previous season was sensational with 2,786 passing yards and 28 TD passes without an interception. Oh, and Lance ran for 1,100 yards and 14 more touchdowns. He's supremely athletic and can make all the throws. Questions will arise about his ability to adjust and make quick decisions in the NFL. The Lions may face their own snap decision if Lance is available at No. 7. But even if Stafford sticks around for another year or two, sitting and learning from Stafford could do wonders for Lance's game.
3. Mac Jones, QB - Alabama Crimson Tide
Like Trey Lance, Alabama QB Mac Jones led his team to an undefeated season. But Jones' was in 2020 in a National Championship-winning season during his only year as the full-time starter. Jones' stats shine with more than 4,500 passing yards, 77.0% completion rate and a gaudy 11.2 yards per pass attempt with a 41:4 TD-to-INT ratio. But star stats in college don't necessarily make a NFL quarterback. Scouts and film study reveal that Jones completed 145 of 424 attempts to pass-catchers at or behind the line of scrimmage. That's a very high rate of 34.1%, as is the 53% yards after catch his receivers converted. If Jones is a potential Lions' target at quarterback, Detroit should trade down or wait, as Jones is not an elite talent like some of his peers in this class.
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