After 12 games and several heartbreaking losses, the Detroit Lions finally got their first win of the season in Sunday’s victory over the Minnesota Vikings. The good news for Lions fans is that the win didn’t impact their 2022 NFL Draft position; they’re still in the driver’s seat for the first overall pick and get the bonus of enjoying a victory Monday to boot.
Winning is the ultimate deodorant. At least, that’s what we’ve been told for as long as the game’s been played. And if that really is the case, then Jared Goff’s impact on the Lions’ victory was maybe—maybe?—the kind of game that could jumpstart momentum for him to remain the team’s starting quarterback in 2022 after the team has a chance to build the offense around his skill set. Goff threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns and came up big when it was needed most.
The most likely path the Lions will take this offseason will be to add some high-priced non-quarterback talent in free agency before pivoting to the game’s most important position during the NFL draft. It remains unlikely Detroit will find a replacement for Goff at the top of Round 1, but the second of their two first-round picks will present an opportunity to find their QB-next, assuming Goff is on borrowed time.
There’s a lot of football left to be played, and Goff has a chance to repair his reputation over the next five games. For now, though, it still feels like the Lions will go big-game hunting on draft weekend.
Take the most recent 2022 mock draft from the team of writers at The Draft Network, for example. It’s a mock that was created after the Lions’ victory. Yet, Detroit still snags a signal-caller.
The Lions’ first pick—1.01—remains pretty much chalk. TDN’s Jaime Eisner sent Detroit the dominant Oregon edge rusher, Kayvon Thibodeaux:
“The Lions have needs just about everywhere. Since there is no quarterback in this class worthy of the No. 1 overall pick, Detroit takes the player with the highest upside in the class, EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux. Thibodeaux is a high-effort, explosive player that the Lions can build a defense around. The former Oregon Duck is just a flat-out disruptor with plenty of room to grow into his ceiling.”
Where it gets interesting is that second first-rounder (No. 24), where Eisner shops the quarterback aisle and grabs Ole Miss’ Matt Corral.
“I didn't want to take a QB at No. 1, but here in the mid-20s it becomes a real conversation. Matt Corral is TDN's QB1 and the Lions won't be able to pass him up. Jared Goff is clearly not the answer and there's no guarantee anyone in the 2023 class is better than Corral, even if Detroit has a top-five pick."
Goff, even with a win on his Lions resume, still has a long way to go before mock drafts like this one shift away from a quarterback being high on Detroit’s wish list. But it’s reasonable to say that there’s a better-than-zero-percent chance that he can actually do that, especially if he plays with the kind of success he enjoyed in Week 13.
The NFL is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ league, and if Goff’s “lately” is a string of wins and near-300-yard games to close out the season, everything we thought we knew about the upcoming Lions’ offseason could be in for a drastic reboot.