1.) Do you see any scenario in which the Lions did not draft a quarterback this year?
Christian Booher: I do see a scenario where the Lions pass on taking a quarterback. After all, they did it last year, even though many believed they would grab a signal-caller in the later rounds. I think the fifth-year option is a huge factor in taking a quarterback early, so don’t be surprised if the Lions wait until next year to find a young quarterback that they can get an extra year on. I don’t expect Brad Holmes to take a quarterback just to take one, so if none are suitable, then the Lions could certainly pass.
Vito Chirco: Well, I surely don’t see the Lions taking a quarterback early in this year’s draft. However, there’s a strong likelihood that Detroit general manager Brad Holmes takes one later in the draft (ie Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker in the fourth round). Hooker’s recovering from an ACL injury that he suffered during the 2022 season, but he could certainly learn behind Detroit starting signal-caller Jared Goff for a year and be groomed into the team’s long-term answer under center.
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Now, if Holmes can’t land a quarterback that he believes can be the Lions’ future starting quarterback, then yes, I think there’s a chance he will pass entirely on this year’s QB draft class (just as he did last year). So, yes, I do see a scenario in which Detroit elects to not draft a signal-caller this April.
2.) If Detroit GM Brad Holmes intends on making one big, splash signing in free agency, who should it be for?
Boohers: I think Holmes should make a push at a game-changer on defense. I personally would like to see either Lavonte David or James Bradberry donning Lions colors next season, as both are proven leaders on the defensive side. Either of those two would make a huge difference on a defensive unit that has struggled big time in recent years.
Chirco: There are a few big-name free agents I’d really like for the Lions, such as Eagles defensive lineman Javon Hargrave and Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David. But, I’m going to go with Bengals safety Jessie Bates III.
Safety is one of many positions of need for the Lions on the defensive side of the ball, and Bates would clearly be an upgrade.
Bates has played in at least 15 games, and has logged 1,000-plus snaps in each of his five NFL seasons. So, he’s remarkably durable, and he’s coming off a regular season in which he produced a career-high four interceptions and a top-five Pro Football Focus grade against the run among safety (84.8).
So, if I’m the Lions, I’m backing up the Brink’s truck for Bates.
3.) Which Lions free agent are you most worried about getting a contract too large to match?
Boohers: I think this question boils down to two players: Jamaal Williams and DJ Chark. Both shined in 2022, and will have a long list of suitors. Williams, especially, could have a long group of teams looking to enlist his services. If Detroit were to lose the running back, it would be a massive hit, given how much it has meant to the team’s culture shift and rebuild.
Chirco: For me, it’s clearly Jamaal Williams. He’s coming off a career-best season, having rushed for 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. Plus, he accumulated an NFL-best 17 rushing touchdowns in 2022, breaking Barry Sanders’ Lions franchise record for rushing scores in a single season.
Williams did all of that on the field, while emerging as a leader in Detroit’s locker room. So, if there’s one impending Lions free agent that I’m worried about Detroit getting outbid for, it’s Williams.
4.) Do you think anyone will trade up with the Bears to grab the No. 1 overall pick?
Boohers: I think there will be a team that winds up trading for Chicago’s top pick. Right now, I’m in the camp of believing that either Houston, Indianapolis or Las Vegas will give up whatever it takes to get the top selection in order to take a quarterback. Given that Houston has the second pick, its package may be the most enticing for Detroit’s divisional rival.
Chirco: I believe there’s a distinct possibility. Of the teams currently picking in the top 10, I could see the Colts (with the No. 4 pick), the Raiders (with the No. 7 pick) and the Panthers (with the No. 9 pick) all looking to facilitate a trade with the Bears for the No. 1 overall choice.
With the Bears already equipped with Justin Fields under center, I believe Chicago is very open to dealing with the No. 1 pick. And, Indy, Las Vegas and Carolina each have a clear need for a franchise quarterback.
So, if I were a betting man, I’d put my money on the Bears trading out of the No. 1 pick to acquire multiple draft assets.
5.) Do you see Holmes trading up from the No. 18 spots?
Boohers: I didn’t think Holmes would trade up last year, so it would be foolish for me to rule it out again this year. If he falls in love with a player, see Jameson Williams in 2021, I expect him to do as much as possible to move up to land him. Going back to the first question, I think Holmes could potentially move up for a quarterback, should one of the top prospects slip through the cracks. Don’t rule out him working the phones in an effort to steal a top defensive playmaker, either. I expect the draft night to be a very interesting one from the Lions’ perspective.
Chirco: I don’t see it currently happening. But, after Holmes traded up 20 spots from the No. 32 overall pick to the No. 12 overall selection last year to draft Jameson Williams, I wouldn’t put anything past the third-year general manager. I believe Holmes is always open to doing business, as long as he is able to strike a deal that can help upgrade his team (especially if he can do so for the Lions over the long term). To me, that’s why he clearly facilitated the deal for Williams during last year’s draft.
So, if one of Holmes’ draft targets is available earlier in the draft and he feels like that player won’t be available once the 18th pick rolls around, I’d say there’s a decent chance Holmes gets on the phone and makes a trade happen.