The Detroit Lions are in a good spot as far as the quarterback position is concerned. The team’s starter Jared Goff enjoyed a Pro Bowl season. He posted his second-most touchdowns and third-most passing yards in a single season in 2022. With the Lions finishing 9-8, Goff helped the team to its first winning season since 2017.
Alongside offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, Goff led a Lions offense that ranked eighth in passing yards and passing touchdowns. The offense ranked fifth in points scored and fourth in total yards as a whole.
This offseason, the Lions made it a point to address the team’s backup situation early. Detroit Lions GM Brad Holmes said the team needs to avoid a repeat of last season.
“I feel like last year we kind of left training camp kind of sliding into home plate trying to fill that backup quarterback role,” Holmes said. “So, that is something that we’re gonna need to address, whether it’s here in free agency or upcoming in the draft.”
The team re-signed last season’s backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld to a one-year deal. However, it is unlikely that is the last move the team will make at the position.
Reports indicate the Lions have made a contract offer to veteran free agent Teddy Bridgewater. Whether the team signs him or not, the team will need to address long-term plans at the position at some point.
Head coach Dan Campbell acknowledged the team’s need for a plan for the future.
“We believe we can win with Jared Goff,” Campbell said. “We also know he is not going to be here for the next 10 years. Certainly, our eyes are on potentially a quarterback. The question is where do you acquire that at?”
The Detroit Lions have options in the draft
With the sixth pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Lions have a fair chance at landing one of the four quarterbacks who headline the class. Alabama’s Bryce Young is almost certain to be off the board within the first two picks, but Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Kentucky’s Will Levis and Florida’s Anthony Richardson could all fall to the team at six.
There are some options outside the first round. Stanford’s Tanner McKee, Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker and UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson are just a few of the quarterbacks in this year’s class who have starter potential.
Goff turns 29 next season, and he only has two seasons left on his contract. A roughly $30 million cap hit over the next two seasons is good value for Goff, but he will be expecting a raise on his next contract.
Goff has proven he can take a team loaded with high-end talent on both sides of the ball to a Super Bowl. As the Lions continue their rebuild, continuing with Goff could prove enough to make a deep playoff run. However, the team needs to determine if the level of play Goff provides is enough to win a Super Bowl.
As the Rams discovered, that answer is no. If the Lions draw that same conclusion, drafting one of the top quarterbacks in this year’s class could set the team up to enter contender status.
The Lions have upgraded their roster, and the team has playoff aspirations for 2023. There is little chance the team will be drafting this high in the near future without giving up significant draft capital to do so. If the Lions are taking Goff’s eventual replacement, this is the draft to do it in.
The Detroit Lions should take a swing on a quarterback, and Florida’s Anthony Richardson possesses the highest ceiling of any of this year’s prospects.
Anthony Richardson has the physical tools necessary to be an elite quarterback
Richardson has the size and physical tools NFL teams covet in the quarterback position. Standing at 6-4 and 232 pounds, the 21-year-old has the ideal frame for a modern NFL quarterback. Richardson has elite arm strength that will rival the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen in the league.
He possesses elite athletic traits as well. He has the speed to burn past defenders, and the size to run right over them. Richardson will enter the league as one of the league’s top rushing quarterbacks from day one.
Richardson has all the traits that cannot be coached. However, he needs time to refine the mental and fundamental aspects of the position.
Where Anthony Richardson needs to improve
Richardson only spent one season as the full-time starter with the Gators. That inexperience was on full display early in the season. He made poor reads and opted to tuck and run rather than make his way through his progressions. However, as the season wore along, Richardson showed marked improvement in diagnosing defenses.
Richardson showed a greater understanding of how to attack different coverages and held on in the pocket more often. He still has plenty of room for improvement in pre and post-snap reads, and he still has a tendency to run earlier than he needs to. But the signs of improvement are there, and in the right situation that development should continue.
He has shown an ability to throw pin-point passes at times. He can throw into tight windows and throw with leverage. However, Richardson struggles with consistency. His footwork is sloppy at times and he has a tendency to sail balls out of reach.
While Richardson’s accuracy and ability to diagnose defenses limit his effectiveness as a starter early in his career, both are areas that can be significantly developed with proper coaching. Look no further than the strides Josh Allen has made as a quarterback in the right situation in Buffalo. Allen went from one of the least accurate quarterbacks in the league to an MVP candidate.
Anthony Richardson is the perfect quarterback for the Detroit Lions
The one thing Anthony Richardson needs to succeed at the NFL level is time. He needs time and coaching to make the necessary improvements in accuracy. He needs time and experience to learn how to better read defenses.
Time is exactly what the Lions can afford to provide Richardson. Detroit has a reliable starter in Goff. While Richardson sits and develops for a season or two, Goff can provide a steady presence under center. With Goff at quarterback, the Lions can achieve those playoff aspirations. They could even make it on a deep playoff run.
With Goff at quarterback, the Lions are limited. It is not impossible for the team to win a Super Bowl with Goff running the show, but his limitations at the position make it that much harder. Goff is a guy that teams can win with but not consistently because of.
Richardson’s raw physical tools and intangible traits give him the high upside to be a top-five quarterback in the NFL. He is not sure thing. He has boom-or-bust potential. If he hits, the Lions could find themselves a high-end franchise quarterback for the next 10-plus years.
It is certainly a risk taking a swing on Richardson at sixth overall. As far as quarterbacks are concerned, any selection is a risk. There are no surefire bets on quarterbacks. The Lions have built a playoff-level roster. Taking a swing on Richardson while they have a high draft pick could set the team up for Super Bowl contention for years to come.
For more from the author, Thomas Chavez, check him out on Twitter here: @tlchavez43
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