November 26, 2014
Around the big top

Does Cutler trade corner the Lions’ draft choices?

By Tim Barnum|Staff writer
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Like many Detroit Lions fans this year, I was left scratching my head at the end of the season. I was excited about the chance to have the number one draft pick, but worried the Lions would bend to the hype and draft Georgia QB Matthew Stafford – a prospect I was not too excited about.

However, with disgruntled former Denver Bronco Jay Cutler going to the Chicago Bears, where he will immediately be penciled, make that penned, in as the starter, I fear the Lions now almost have to take Stafford.

Here’s why: the NFL is a league where quarterback has to come first.

If the Lions want to be competitive next year, and in the future, they have to secure a franchise quarterback. Green Bay has one and now the Bears have one, only the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit are still searching for a guy to hold it down under center in the NFC North Division.

Now, I feel that Stafford is our only choice at number one.

Originally, I was hoping the Lions would use the free agent market to find the guy. First, I was thinking Matt Cassel, the substitute who won 11 games for the Patriots, but KC quickly scooped him up.

Then, Jay Cutler hit the trade market. This was our chance. We could get Cutler and then draft a left tackle or linebacker in the first round, even after securing a face for our franchise.

Well, our division rivals nixed that idea.

So with no answer left in the FA market, the search for a quarterback turns to the draft, where only two guys, Stafford and USC stud Mark Sanchez, are projected as first round options. From what I hear, Matt Stafford is still projected as the better of the two.

This is not good news for Lions fans, especially since most of us, myself included, are growing extremely impatient and looking for a turnaround sooner than later. Unfortunately, no matter whom we draft, a QB included, Daunte Culpepper will probably be the starter under center this year.

No long term answer there, but Culpepper should provide a good enough option as we wait for the next guy to get ready for his chance, which, unless Culpepper is a complete disaster, should be the 2010 season.

Of course, if he is a complete disaster, Stafford may be the Lions starter sooner than that.

So now I, like all Lions fans, have my eyes on the draft. I am still not too stoked about Stafford, but with a high Wunderlik score, proving he is an intelligent guy, and a huge, accurate arm, he could turn out to be a great quarterback.

In a nutshell, we can’t afford not too draft him. We have to put behind us the Joey Harrington fiasco and hope Stafford can be managed and taught the right way – by sitting for a year, learning the system and watching film with coaches and the starting quarterback.

Is quarterback the only unanswered question for the Lions? Yeah right. As I mentioned before, we are lacking at offensive tackle, defensive back and linebacker.

And if you ask me, we need help on the D-line more than anywhere else (another place we dropped the ball during free agency by not getting a guy like Albert Haynesworth). But with no outstanding college defensive linemen who are proven to be definite speed rushers or amazing inside guys like Glenn Dorsey, this may not be the year the draft gets us an answer on the d-line.

So skeptics like myself, let’s give the Lions a break if they draft Stafford. I know there are some linebackers out there who can help us, but seriously, LB’s don’t sell jerseys, attract media or pack stadiums. There is still only one position in football that can do that for you – quarterback.

And I’m not about to buy a ticket to watch Daunte Culpepper.

If the outlook is good, I just might pay to watch Matthew Stafford.

But I would definitely pay to watch Cutler.

I’m willing to bet I’m not alone.

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