Rod Wood opened the Detroit Lions’ annual season-ticket holder summit Monday by reminding those in attendance that general manager Bob Quinn wouldn’t be revealing “who we’re going to take with the eighth pick” in April’s draft.
Perhaps, Wood should have told the crowd that Quinn wouldn’t be sharing who the Lions won’t take, either.
With two and a half months still left until the draft, Quinn offered up his best head fake Monday, saying he wouldn’t rule out taking a quarterback in the top 10 just over a month after he and head coach Matt Patricia reaffirmed their commitment to Matthew Stafford.
“We’ll consider any position in the draft at any point in time, whether it’s the eighth overall pick or we have multiple picks later in the draft,” Quinn said. “So we’re in a position now with the eighth overall pick that the whole draft board is really wide open to us. We’re not going to really eliminate any prospects.”
The Lions, of course, gain no benefit from telling the world they won’t take a quarterback at No. 8, not with the quarterback-needy Denver Broncos picking two spots behind them and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray now joining Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins as potential top-10 picks.
Last month, both Quinn and Patricia insisted they were fully vested in Stafford despite the quarterback’s disappointing 2018 season.
Stafford, playing the last month through a painful back injury, failed to throw for 4,000 yards for the first time since 2010 and the Lions finished in last place in the NFC North.
Quinn said after the season that he believes the Lions can win a Super Bowl with Stafford as their quarterback.
“Matthew Stafford’s our quarterback,” Quinn said at the time. “He will be our quarterback here. Listen, this guy’s a really talented player and myself, the coaches need to put him in better situations to allow him to use his skill set.”
Taking a quarterback in Round 1 wouldn’t necessarily bring an immediate end to Stafford’s tenure in Detroit. The Lions could use the Kansas City Chiefs approach and give a young quarterback a season’s worth of grooming before handing him the starting job.
But less than two years after signing Stafford to what was at the time the most lucrative contract in NFL history, the Lions have given no indication they’re ready to move on from their 31-year-old signal caller.
On Monday, moments after Quinn affirmed to a fan that, yes, he would consider a quarterback in the top 10, Patricia said it’s misleading to assert that NFL teams are better off building with cheap, young quarterbacks because if those quarterbacks are any good, they’ll eventually sign lucrative deals of their own.
This year, the teams with the five highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL failed to make the playoffs.
“You see a lot of trends through the course of the league with young quarterbacks that come in and have a lot of success early on and maybe those teams have been built heavily on one side of the ball or the other,” Patricia said. “Look, when those contracts come due and those quarterbacks have to be paid then those other positions, they really take a hit. And there’s definitely teams that you can look at through the course of the years in the NFL that even have achieved that last-game success and won, and then that quarterback contract, that bill came due and really haven’t been able to get back there or back to that level.
“It’s tricky water to kind of tread there when you have those situations and when you’re trying to balance the overall foundation of the team so that you’re competitive all the way across the board.”
The Lions have plenty of needs on both sides of the ball, and their college scouts are in town this week for a set of pre-combine draft meetings.
They want more playmakers for a defense that finished 31st in the league with just 14 takeaways this season. They need to upgrade their tight end and wide receiver spots, and maybe find a new starting right guard. And they probably will look to draft a quarterback at some point, though it seems unlikely they’ll go that route in Round 1, no matter what Quinn said Monday.
“My last couple years here, we’ve drafted anywhere from 16 to (21), I believe,” Quinn said. “So it’s a little bit different for us this year. There’s a few more players that are going to be available. If there’s a quarterback out there that we deem could help us this year or in the future, we’ll never close the door on that.”
At least not when other teams are listening.
Contact Dave Birkett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.Read more on the Detroit Lions and sign up for our Lions newsletter.