Detroit Lions: Sam Darnold trade will impact NFL Draft options

Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /

With the New York Jets trading their what had hoped to be a future franchise quarterback to the Carolina Panthers nearly a month before the start of the 2021 NFL Draft will limit the Detroit Lions options with the seventh overall pick.

The Jets send Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a sixth-round choice in 2021, plus a second-and-fourth-rounder in 2022.

New York clearly sees the writing on the wall, and at this point, have no issue showing their hand sitting pretty picking second leading up to the draft.  The rebuilding Jets will throw a rookie quarterback right into the fire plus add some future draft capital for their former third overall selection.

The move also gives Darnold a much-needed fresh start plus a stable professional in Teddy Bridgewater who should help the youngster hit the reset button.  That is if the Panthers opt to keep both for a season.

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For the Detroit Lions, there are two ways to look at this recent deal.

First off, it’s become clear the Detroit Lions landed a significant return from the Los Angeles Rams in the Matthew Stafford deal.

Stafford is a far better quarterback than Darnold, no doubt, but to get multiple first-round picks, a third-round choice, and a quarterback many will consider being better than Darnold is eye-opening.  Just think, many suggest Goff was the ‘throw-in,’ so Detroit got themselves a comparable quarterback with a lengthy resume plus an abundance of picks.

For those who are quick to point to Darnold’s upside and overall potential, he turns 24-years old this summer.  Jared Goff is just 26-years old, and whether it was aided by the offensive scheme, system, head coach, whatever, he’s played in a Super Bowl, he’s won playoff games.

When you examine the Jets’ less-than-desirable return for Darnold, as a Lions fan, you can’t help but snicker, can you?  The Jets are clearly using their second overall pick on a quarterback, and all signs point to Zach Wilson.

The second now; it’s all but confirmed the first three picks in the draft will be quarterbacks.  The Panthers did not want to risk someone like Justin Fields or Trey Lance falling to them at no. 8 overall so they went and got a young QB with potential.

The Atlanta Falcons currently sit with the fourth overall pick. With the organization having the corps of Matt Ryan still starting at the position, they may be inclined to take a quarterback fourth overall understanding selecting in the top four is a rarity.

That Falcons’ decision at no. 4 could be critical to what the Detroit Lions hope to do with the seventh overall pick.

The Detroit Lions are still in a good spot having the seventh overall pick but will have a tough decision to make moving forward.  The biggest question will be, should they select a premier talent that is a non-quarterback or take the fourth or fifth rated QB? Simply selecting an elite talent at another position like Penei Sewell, Ja’Marr Chase, Kyle Pitts, Jaylen Waddle, or DeVonta Smith isn’t the worst thing.

Maybe general manager Brad Holmes will be able to work out a deal to trade back, but with the quarterback position quickly drying up, it really limits the options.

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By adding Darnold, I assume the Panthers are content with giving him a fresh start.  That leaves the Denver Broncos, currently scheduled to pick ninth overall, and the New England Patriots at 15 as the two quarterback-hungry teams that first come to mind. Both may be trade-down candidates for the Lions if they wish.