Jared Goff is the quarterback of the Detroit Lions in 2022.
But what about in 2023? Will Goff play so well that the Lions will keep him around, maybe even extend his contract? It’s possible.
It’s also possible that 2022 is Goff’s last season in a Lions uniform. And as a Lions fan, I like to plan for the absolute worst case scenario.
That’s why I think the Lions should consider drafting quarterback Malik Willis with the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Wait, don’t close the article! Hear me out.
For starters, let’s take a look at the NFL Draft board. Here are the top five overall prospects, according to Pro Football Focus:
- EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
- SAFETY Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
- CORNER Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
- EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
- TACKLE Charles Cross, Mississippi State
So let’s just assume the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to draft Hutchinson at No. 1. That leaves our Detroit Lions with a big decision to make at No. 2.
Trade down, you say? That’s always something I like to yell at my TV on draft night, but it never actually happens. And with no big, must-have quarterbacks in the draft, the value of trading down is diminished. But I’ll still yell about it, don’t worry.
Barring a trade, the Lions will need to make a pick at No. 2 -- it’s required. So where do they go?
Safety? Drafting a safety at No. 2 is risky as a value proposition. Yes, good safeties are hard to find, but you can probably take a shot at one later in the draft. Same goes for a cornerback, which we’re all a bit scorned on right now -- I won’t say any names.
So what about Kayvon Thibodeaux? He was the projected No. 1 pick for months and months, and has been sliding down the draft board, now projected in the 8-10 range. Should the Lions reach for a player who is falling down the draft board ladder? I’m not sure that’s a great sell.
What about the offensive line? Probably not a great value here either, considering the Lions are primed to have one of the best offensive lines in the league next year, and drafted Penei Sewell in the first round last year.
So where does that leave us? I’ll tell you. It leaves us with the ability to make a bold choice. To take a shot at something that has big risk, but even bigger reward.
Draft the quarterback. Draft Malik Willis.
Liberty’s Malik Willis is the quarterback on the board with the highest potential for stardom. Willis has a huge arm, a big personality, and he can run -- fast. Here are some of his strengths from NFL draft analyst Lance Zierlein:
- Electrifying dual-threat ability and potential.
- Frame is compact, broad and powerful.
- Rare escapability and elusiveness on the go.
- Finishes strong and gets what is needed on called runs.
- Ran for 100-plus yards five times over the last two years.
- Arm strength capable of winning in tight windows.
- Beats safeties on deep sideline throws.
- Ability to work through progressions when protected.
The weaknesses for Willis are exactly what you’d expect -- accuracy, ball security, blah, blah, blah -- you know, the weaknesses for every single player who enters the NFL. That’s what coaching is for, right?
Willis has many question marks. But they could turn into exclamation points. And the beauty of it is -- the Lions have time to figure it out. With Goff in town, Willis isn’t likely to see much playing time to start, anyway. He’ll have time to watch and learn.
And for a franchise that always seems to miss on the generational talent, the bold choice, the playmaker, the guy we’re tired of seeing on the other team -- taking a shot at Willis is an exciting prospect.