Fri, 07 May 2021

Mike OHara

This year's quarterback draft class has caught the eye of Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes, and it isn't only the raw talent that makes him like what he sees.

Holmes is impressed by the variety of skills in a group of prospects who are likely to dominate the top of the draft.

"The quarterback class is good this year," Holmes said in a pre-draft Zoom interview.

"What's cool about this year is, they're all in different flavors. You have a guy who can do it all, or can do it from the pocket, do it with his legs.

"All the different flavors make it very, very intriguing."

Is it intriguing enough for the Lions to use the seventh pick overall on a quarterback? Or is using the pick to trade back a better -- and more likely -- option?

"When you're picking in the top 10, I don't think you can ignore anything," Holmes said.

With at least four quarterbacks likely to be drafted in the first 10 picks on April 29, the Lions have good options at their disposal to do more than window shop in a hot quarterback market.

Following is the Lions' depth chart at quarterback, the draft's strength for quarterbacks and position draft priority for the Lions and five quarterbacks who could interest them.

Note: Trevor Lawrence of Clemson is not included in this five because he is a lock to be drafted first overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Lions QB depth chart: Projected starter Jared Goff (acquired from Rams in trade for Matthew Stafford and draft picks), and backups David Blough and Tim Boyle (signed as a free agent).

Quarterback draft strength and priority for the Lions: It's a strong position at the top because of team needs and interest.

Lions' draft priority: Likely Day 2 or 3 for depth and development only.

Lions QB draft stat: If the Lions don't draft a quarterback who makes the regular-season roster it will be the first time since 1997 that they will not have a quarterback on the roster who was drafted by the Lions. The 1997 Lions finished the season with Scott Mitchell, Frank Reich and Matt Blundin as their quarterbacks. None were drafted by the Lions.

Five quarterbacks who could interest the Lions:

1. Zach Wilson, Brigham Young

6-3, 210

Stats line: 3 seasons, played 30 games. Career: 56 TD passes, 15 interceptions, 15 rushing TDs. 2020 season: 33 TD passes, 3 int., 74 percent completion rate. Somewhat slight build concerns some scouts, but athleticism and strong arm with quick delivery are positive traits. Projected to go no later than fourth overall. The Lions would have to look hard and long if he dropped to No. 7, which he won't. But like Holmes said, be ready for anything.

How he could fit the Lions: Accuracy, athleticism would give their offense a new dimension.

O'HARA'S DRAFT PREVIEW: 5 linebackers that could interest Lions Meet the Prospect: Kyle Pitts Meet the Prospect: Penei Sewell

2. Justin Fields, Ohio State

6-3, 228

Stats line: 22 TDs, 6 interceptions in eight games in 2020. 41 TD passes, 3 interceptions in 14 games in 2019. Strong arm and toughness, which he displayed in playoff win over Clemson. Throws a good deep ball but needs to anticipate better -- like most rookies.

How he could fit the Lions: Good physical traits would add an athletic quarterback with good size.

3. Trey Lance, North Dakota State

6-3, 221

Stats line: 2019 was his only full season: 16 games, 28 TD passes, no interceptions, 67 percent completion rate. Also rushed for 1,100 yards and 14 TDs. Facing lower-level competition and limited playing time -- only three other games aside from 2019 -- are question marks. Production, athleticism and upbeat nature are not questions.

How he could fit the Lions: Potential to develop into a dynamic player.

4. Mac Jones, Alabama

6-3, 214

Stats line: Played with a star supporting cast in 2020 -- his only full season as a starter -- and delivered: 77 percent completion rate, 41 TDs, 4 interceptions. Brilliant in championship game win over Ohio State, throwing five TD passes, no picks and an 80-percent completion rate.

How he could fit the Lions: Not overly athletic but smart and accurate. Made a positive impression at the Senior Bowl. Do not count him out as a possibility to jump ahead of Lance.

5. Ian Book, Notre Dame

6-0, 210

Stats line: Four-year player, three-year starter, two-year captain. Career: 72 TD passes, 20 interceptions, 63.8 percent completion rate. Dropped from 34 TD passes in 13 games in 2019 to 15 in 12 games in 2020. Failed to throw a TD pass in last two games vs. Clemson and Alabama.

How he could fit the Lions: Slightly undersized, but good athleticism and leadership can make him worth developing as a lower round pick.

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