For the 30 NFL franchises and fan bases not taking part in this week's Super Bowl festivities in Tampa Bay, the focus has turned to the offseason.
It's officially the beginning of mock draft season around the NFL, and today we take our first look at who some of the early mock drafts have the Detroit Lions selecting with the No. 7 overall pick. Spoiler alert – it's heavy on offense, especially quarterback:
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Why: Detroit is expected to be in the QB market following the news that the team plans to begin trade discussions for Matthew Stafford. It would be a gift for Fields to fall to the Lions with the seventh pick, but the board works their way in this scenario.
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN.com: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Why: Things change quickly in the NFL. Before the news on Saturday that the Lions were going to trade quarterback Matthew Stafford this offseason, I would have said that they should keep Stafford and try to help him with a wide receiver in this draft. Alabama's Jaylen Waddle would have fit here. But instead it appears that new general manager Brad Holmes and coach Dan Campbell will go all-in on a rebuild, and so Fields could be the face of it. He had an up-and-down season, but we saw the flashes of his talent, particularly in his six-touchdown performance against Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal.
Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Why: We've stayed away from mocking a quarterback to the Lions mostly because we still think Matthew Stafford can play at a high level. But with the reports that the two sides are ready to go their separate ways, it's time. New coach Dan Campbell gets Lance, a strong-armed passer with tons of upside who will likely need a year to grow into the job.
Chris Trapasso, CBSSports.com: Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Josh Edwards, CBSSports.com: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (at pick No. 3 trade with Miami)
Why: Detroit has made the decision to move on from Matthew Stafford and the heir apparent is not on the roster. They are within striking distance of landing a top quarterback in the draft but they have to be aggressive. The Lions surrender the No. 7 overall pick, a second round pick and a 2022 fourth round pick to move up for the right to select Justin Fields.
Nate Davis, USA Today: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Why: They're not parting with Stafford to turn the keys over to Chase Daniel or David Blough. Fields is a multi-dimensional threat who was at his best with six TD passes against Clemson in the college playoff semifinals. However that performance was bracketed by several checkered ones, including his final one against Alabama. Still, Fields' estimable potential suggests the Lions might even have to move up a few spots to get him.
Nick Klopsis, Newsday: Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Why: Matthew Stafford's time in Detroit is up, so a quarterback is quite likely here, but the Lions could bring in someone via free agency or trade. If that happens, they could take a receiver instead, since Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola all are scheduled to hit free agency. Ja'Marr Chase opted out of the 2020 season, but he won the Biletnikoff Award and set SEC receiving records in 2019 thanks to his great hands and mixture of speed, shiftiness and physicality.
Ric Serritella, Sports Illustrated: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
Why: With the news that Detroit will part ways with quarterback Matthew Stafford this offseason and the new regime looking to start over, the selection of Wilson signals the dawn of a new era in Motown.
Vinny Iyer, Sporting News: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Why: The Lions were a mess defensively under now fired Matt Patricia and need someone to dominate against run and pass on the second level. They can get a rangy playmaker in Parsons, going for matching value with need vs. going wide receiver. Parsons is a hard-tackling and well-covering cleanup man in the Luke Kuechly game-changing mold.
Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Why: With the news that QB Matthew Stafford will not be returning to Detroit and new head coach Dan Campbell recently signed a six-year contract, the Lions are in full rebuild mode. Lance is the best option for that scenario; he's as talented as it gets, but time is likely needed given that he has just one full year of experience at the FCS level. Lance graded at 90.7 as a redshirt freshman in 2019 before a mediocre "showcase" game in 2020. He has a cannon and rushing ability to tap into, while the Lions have the time to allow Lance to reach his potential.
Seth Galina, Pro Football Focus: Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama
Why: Ok, hear me out! New general manager Brad Holmes comes from the Rams, where he played a big role in drafting Aaron Donald. Christian Barmore is the first of a long line of future interior defensive linemen who have caught "Donald Fever" and try to mold their game after him. Barmore is so nimble for a big man it's incredible. He showed out on limited snaps in 2019, and while he probably didn't play at his absolute best throughout the whole regular season, he was back to being his dominant self when the College Football Playoffs rolled around, earning a 91.3 pass-rush grade over the final two games of his championship-winning season. It's not as if the Lions don't need pass rush, either.
Anthony Treash, Pro Football Focus: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Why: Detroit is in a tough spot with wide receivers Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola all slated to hit free agency. The good news is that they are in a position to grab one of the most electric wide receivers college football has ever seen. Waddle missed most of the 2020 season due to a fractured ankle, but the Bama receiver was truly an explosive play waiting to happen in the four games he appeared in. He generated a Power 5-best 4.68 yards per route run, averaged 10.7 yards after the catch, teamed up for a perfect passer rating of 158.3 on his 29 targets and hauled in 329 deep receiving yards. The latter still ranks 13th among all Power 5 receivers despite appearing just four times all year. Waddle reportedly ran a 4.37 40-yard dash coming out of high school. He is a threat to house it anytime he gets the ball with that speed and explosiveness.
Walter Cherepinsky, Walter Football: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Why: The Lions and Matthew Stafford have agreed to part ways this offseason. It's a sad end to the Stafford era in Detroit. The team will need to find a replacement, so perhaps they'll talk themselves into drafting the fourth quarterback in this class.