Dan Campbell sends mixed messages that Lions are choosing a quarterback

Detroit Lyons continues to well disguise its intentions – both short-term and long-term – with the position of defender.

Lions head coach Dan Campbell met with a small group of reporters on Thursday, and as general manager Brad Holmes said last week at owners ’meetings, he seriously praised current defender Jared Goff.

“I like Goff. “I like where he is,” said Campbell. “I thought he finished strong last year. I’m glad we got him this year, and I like the prospects that are in this draft, and I like it.” .

And here lies the puzzle. Draft. The last three years of Goff’s career have been mediocre, at best. The optimism is how Goff finished the season – with a 3-1 record and a 103.3 pass rating in his last four starts – and that just four years ago Goff was a Pro Bowl defender who helped get to the Los Angeles Rams Super Cup.

But at some point the Lions need a little more confidence as a defender, and the team has a great opportunity with the second overall pick in the NFL Draft to add the best quarterback in this year’s class. There are serious questions as to whether there is a true franchise defender in the 2022 class, but the Lions gained an added advantage when they found out while training in the Senior Bowl. There they got a unique look at this year’s top two defenders in Liberty Malik Willis and Sam Howell of North Carolina.

“I feel like we’re pretty good at both of them, and I like them,” Campbell said. “Look, Malik, he’s explosive now. This guy is an explosive athlete, and he will learn to play as a defender, but he is explosive. “

So what does the Lion do? Go and see what they have in Goff, and go back to the quarterback on next year’s draft (or later) – if they may not be in such a great position to occupy it? Or are they taking a defender this year in a class full of serious questions?

If you were to disassemble Campbell’s media session, there were hints in both directions. Asked what they were looking for in election № 2, Campbell mentioned the ability to come and make an immediate impact.

“You want a guy who can come, and he’s the first day,” Campbell said. “It’s really what you’re trying to acquire – the guy you feel can come and he’ll be able to create a solid production for you.”

This, of course, seems to disqualify the defender twice, especially one like Willis, which may take a year or two to develop. But when asked shortly afterwards why a quarterback is considered if you need a direct participant, Campbell cited an intriguing case.

“If you really love a guy and you know people will capture him, and the only way to get that guy is to pick him where they are, it’s worth thinking about, especially if you think you can develop them. guys, ”Campbell said.

Part of the debate is also whether you really need an elite-level quarterback to win this league. At this point in his career, it seems unlikely that Goff will turn into this guy. Meanwhile, Willis not only possesses the physical tools to be an elite pass, but he also possesses such mobility that is fashionable among NFL defenders.

Campbell was directly asked if they needed a stellar defender, especially a mobile one, to constantly win, and, again, the reports were mixed.

“No, I don’t think you need it,” Campbell said. “I think, boy, you’d like to have a player like that because they can improvise. There are things they can do and they can improvise face down so they can control your attack, they’re going to do what they need, they understand it well, they know their reading. If something is wrong, they have pocket mobility and they can break it, but their eyes are always looking down.

“These are guys who are hurting you, not just pure runners. These are the ones who can always just keep looking for the next play while I walk away from you. But I think such guys are obviously special. And they certainly can give you a better chance. But no, I don’t believe you need to have one of these guys to achieve sustainable success. ”

To paraphrase: they don’t need an elite mobile defender, but it would be nice to have one.

If there was ever a moment in the conversation when Campbell might have bowed his hand, then it was near the end. He talked about the importance of the here and now and seemed to focus on making the roster and then, when the time came and the player, did his best to add a defender.

“What’s better for us now?” Said Campbell. “Now Brad has to look at it a little further than I do, but right now, what gives us a better chance? And man, let’s build this list, in general. Now, (if) the right guy is sitting on the right choice in that position, then let’s do it. But we like Goff, and I like where he is. He finished strong. Keep adding pieces, and then, dude, every time it will be – is it next year? Is it this year? Is it two years from now? And the right guy is sitting there, then you figure out how to get that guy. You understand the way if it’s the right guy. ”

If I had to interpret this quote myself, I would have come to the same conclusion I made after Holmes last week. The Lions want to make a list around Goff at the moment. If that doesn’t work, they will have a strong enough list to become aggressive and use all the necessary resources to add a defender they like.

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