Detroit Lions must consider Trey Lance with No. 7 pick in 2021 NFL Draft

The Denver Broncos trade up for Trey Lance in this 2021 NFL mock draft (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)
The Denver Broncos trade up for Trey Lance in this 2021 NFL mock draft (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images) /

It is not an exaggeration to state that the Detroit Lions completely reshaped the direction of their franchise when they traded Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams. Detroit was never able to reach significant heights with Stafford under center and now a complete rebuild makes the most sense for the team.

The Lions will now have an extra first-round selection in the 2022 and 2023 NFL Drafts, allowing them the opportunity to take their time and build out their roster slowly. They obviously hope that new quarterback Jared Goff can reach his ceiling as a former first overall pick, but let’s be honest, if Sean McVay could only get mediocre play out of Goff, what chance do the Lions have of raising his ceiling?

The Detroit Lions need to be realistic about their current situation with Goff. He is a bridge quarterback for this team with a limited ceiling. Detroit is unlikely to be anything close to competitive with Goff under center and because of this, they need to have long-term quarterback options on their radar this offseason.

Picking at No. 7 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Lions may end up finding themselves in a position to snag their long-term franchise quarterback this offseason. This quarterback class is extremely talented, but there appear to be varying opinions on most of the top players at the position.

Trevor Lawrence is the near-consensus top quarterback of the class, with some combination of Zach Wilson, Justin Fields and Trey Lance closing out the top tier for many. Mac Jones is getting some hype from certain circles, but he would undoubtedly be a reach at No. 7 and would also make more sense for a team that is closer to being competitive.

If the Detroit Lions are going to target a quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft, they should be swinging for the fences with long-term upside. Trey Lance, the gifted quarterback prospect out of North Dakota State, stands out as the most logical fit for this team.

Why Trey Lance is the best fit for the Detroit Lions

Lance has the tremendous combination of arm talent and athleticism at the quarterback position that scouts dream of. He legitimately has an elite arm that allows him to hit any throw on the field and he also displays the ability to throw the ball with accuracy on the run and work unique arm angles when needed.

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As a runner, Trey Lance can come in and be a dynamic playmaker on day one. He does a great job of sensing pressure in the pocket and understanding when he needs to tuck the ball and run. Lance also shows impressive open-field speed, great elusiveness for a quarterback prospect and tremendous power at the point of contact. Make no mistake about it, Lance is a tough and explosive ball carrier whose ability to create with his legs makes him an ideal fit for the modern NFL.

While Lance can undoubtedly escape the pocket and improvise when needed, he also does a nice job of playing within structure and taking what the defense gives him. Lance shined in a run-heavy offensive attack in college, carving up defenses with sharp and precise throws off of play-action.

He also does a great job of standing tall in the pocket and working through his progressions. While Trey Lance undoubtedly has some work to do with his overall field vision, it was great to see him actually working through those progressions and finding an open target within the structure of the offense at times.

If Lance showed this kind of ability as a multi-year starter at a major college program, he would rival Trevor Lawrence as the top prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft class. That being said, the truth of the matter is that Lance was a one-year starter at the FCS level. While it is not his fault that a majority of his final college season was canceled (Lance only played in one game in 2020), it is still fair to question whether he can make a smooth transition to the next level.

While his upside is absolutely massive, Lance would ideally be able to learn from the sidelines for an entire season before stepping in as the starting quarterback of an NFL team. He is not going to be ready to come in and make an immediate impact, but that is part of the reason why he feels like such a great fit for the Detroit Lions.

If the Lions were able to bring Lance into the mix, they could keep him on the sidelines for a year, giving Goff the reigns for the 2021 season. They are not under any immediate pressure to compete and it would not hurt anything to give Goff a chance to re-establish himself as a legitimate franchise quarterback.

If Goff plays well, the Lions could find some unexpected value in a trade scenario with him next offseason. If he struggles, they simply move on after the season and enter the Trey Lance era.

If Lance were to develop well as a rookie and become a strong starting option for the Detroit Lions heading into the 2022 season, this team would suddenly be in great shape going forward. They would have their franchise quarterback in the fold and be ready to build around him with a pair of first-round picks in the next two drafts.

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It is certainly possible that Lance will be off of the board by the time the Lions go on the clock at No. 7. It is easy to see the upside in his game and a team could certainly target him as their franchise quarterback before Detroit has a chance to pounce. That being said, if Lance is available when the Lions pick at No. 7, they need to think long and hard about adding him to the mix and building an offense around his immense upside.