By: Jeremy Trotiter
The Detroit Lions are in a relatively compromising position this season compared to most other NFL teams. They traded away their franchise quarterback in Matthew Stafford, getting future picks in return as well as Jared Goff. Jared could be good for Detroit, however if he were to perform poorly this year they could be looking at a pretty high up draft pick.
In this article I will be going over players the Lions should consider drafting, as well as why they would be good fits with the team. I will be operating under the assumption that their picks will be according to their Super Bowl odds, meaning they would have the second overall pick (they have the second-worst odds to win the SB) as well as the 29th pick (Los Angeles Rams first-round pick from Stafford trade, they have the 3rd best odds to win the SB or 29th worst). With that said, let’s start with the first player.
Spencer Rattler – QB – Oklahoma
The next Oklahoma QB in line to be a premier pick is the Phoenix native Spencer Rattler. After an impressive redshirt freshman season, he should be looking to improve even further as a player in 2021-2022. Rattler is a phenomenally accurate quarterback when he has just enough time to make throws, completing 67.5% of his passes, however he can also improvise at an extremely high level.
After back-to-back number one overall picks in 2018 and 2019 being Oklahoma QBs, the Lions could look for a true improvising based quarterback to replace Matthew Stafford, and bring a new dynamic to the team. If the Lions are picking within the top three picks, they should most definitely consider bringing in a quarterback as either Jared Goff did not perform in that scenario, or the roster needs more time to develop.
In 2020, Spencer Rattler put up the following statline:
- 11 games played
- 214 passes completed on 317 attempts (67.5%)
- 3031 passing yards, 28 passing touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 172.6 Passer efficiency rating
- 81 rush attempts for 160 yards and 6 touchdowns
Overall, Rattler is a fantastic prospect who can pass at all three levels with great accuracy, while also being able to get outside the pocket and still make the throw. As of now he is one of the top two QBs in the class to most analysts, as he should be, and Detroit would hugely improve having him behind center.
Justyn Ross – WR – Clemson
In this scenario, rather than replacing Jared Goff, the Lions would supplement him with new receivers. As of right now one of the biggest needs in Detroit would be a receiver, as they have very little depth and even their top receivers on the depth chart are unproven. Justyn Ross would change that, and even better, he may fall to their second first-rounder from the Rams later on.
Ross is one of the better receivers in this class and has the ability to turn plays into huge gains whenever the ball is in his hands. The main reason his value has dipped quite a bit is due to not playing in 2020 due to a major injury. He had a bulging disc in his spine as well as a congenital spine condition, due to a collision with a Clemson LB in practice. However, we have both 2018 and 2019 to base his skills off of. In 2018, he was fifth in the ACC in receiving yards (1000) and led the ACC in yards per reception (21.7). In 2019 he also got eighth in the ACC for number of receptions, with 66.
His better year of the two is 2018, where his full statline looked as such:
- 14 games played
- 46 receptions for 1000 yards (21.7 yards per reception)
- 9 receiving touchdowns.
One thing that does not show up in his stats is his size and reliability. At 6’4” and 205 LBs, he is a very tall receiver who can use his wingspan to go up and contest 50/50 catches and bring them down at a high rate. His hands are extremely reliable, and he makes the most out of every single snap he gets on the field. This is exactly what the Lions need at receiver, and definitely a player Dan Campbell would like to have around due to his physicality.
Kyle Hamilton – S – Notre Dame
Finally, we have a relatively outlier pick, taking a safety in the first round, never mind early in it. This is more for if the Lions do decent, and go in the 7-10 to 5-12 range, and get a pick somewhere from 7-15. Like I mentioned, taking a safety early in the draft is heavily advised against by most teams and front offices…. unless they are a generational talent or have extreme upside. Kyle Hamilton has extreme upside and could be one of the better safeties we have seen come from CFB since Jamal Adams, potentially better.
Kyle Hamilton is another massive prospect, at 6’4” 219 LBs he could be the size of a nickel linebacker if he could put on about 10 more pounds. His extremely tall frame and long wingspan allow him to get in between the receiver and the ball and knock it away almost with ease it seems. The other thing that makes him so scary is his vertical abilities, even though he is 6’4” and has a large frame, he is able to get a 40-inch vertical. This type of athleticism is coveted in the NFL, and scouts should be all over him if he continues on the path he has created.
In 2020, he put up the following statline for the Fighting Irish:
- 11 games played
- 63 total tackles (51 solo and 12 assisted) along with 4.5 tackles for loss
- 1 interception with 14 yards returned, and 6 passes deflected
Another thing to note is in 2019 he had four interceptions, with the same number of passes deflected. He should be a highly drafted prospect, most considering him top 15 at worst right now, and if he has another great year in 2021, we could be looking at our “next big thing” in the safety world. His high level of talent would hugely improve the Lions secondary and would create a fantastic dynamic duo of sorts with Jeff Okudah in front of him on the field at the CB position.