The Detroit Lions have the resources to trade up to the third overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. But here’s why they won’t.
On Monday, I broke down five reasons why the Detroit Lions could realistically trade up to the third overall pick. Considering the Lions have done their research on some of the top prospects and shown they aren’t afraid to go after ‘their guy’ in the past, this remains a very possible outcome.
But today we are going to tackle the opposite side of this debate. While there are specific things Detroit has said that would indicate a trade is possible this year, there are also plenty of reasons that suggest they won’t.
So here are five reasons why Leos not negotiate up to the third choice overall.
Why the Lions won’t trade up to 3
“We don’t feel rushed”
Dan Campbell has publicly stated that they are looking for quarterbacks, knowing that Goff cannot stay in Detroit forever. But in the same breath, he also noted that there was no rush to fill the position.
“We don’t feel rushed right now,” Campbell told the NFL Combine. We don’t feel rushed, but that doesn’t mean our eyes aren’t on a quarterback.
Trading assets to catch a guy in the top three certainly seems to be pressing the issue. Especially when…
An exchange could be expensive
Depending on the trade charts you’re following, a normal Pick 6 to 3 trade would cost anywhere between a late first-round pick or an early third-round pick. Some have suggested the Lions’ second-round pick (48) would. Others, like PFF’s Brad Spielberger, suggest it would cost a lot more. In his simulation, the Lions paid picks 48 and 81, as well as a first- and fourth-round pick in 2024.
Those kinds of things are very hard to predict, but if there really were six teams that contacted the Cardinals for this pick, it makes sense that the price would go up. If CJ Stroud, in particular, is available – as some speculate – that price could be even higher, as there are teams far more desperate than the Lions for a franchise quarterback. They may be willing to pay too much for the choice.
The Lions aren’t desperate enough to start paying too much to trade.
Lions have so many options, no need to choose the most expensive one
Leos aren’t desperate because they’ve done a great job of free will meeting their needs. Sure, that would allow them to go “luxury” and get into quarterback, but why go and take the biggest risk when there are so many other roads? They can sit down and be patient. This project is not only going to have a handful of good prospects. Detroit can approach any position they want and walk away with a handful of big contributors to continue building a roster around Goff.
Brad Holmes has always said he was looking to build a team that would not only compete, but be consistent winners. One way to do this is to constantly reload your talent with young players in the draft. With five picks in the top 81, the Lions can maintain the talent pool rather than dip into resources this year and next to take too risky a turn.
It’s easier to be worse at quarterback than better
Brad Holmes couldn’t have said it any clearer. Finding a franchise quarterback is really, really, really hard.
“It’s easy to become worse at this position than to improve at this position because there are so few of them.”
The Lions should be damn certain that a quarterback in this draft class is a huge improvement on Goff, and I’m not sure anyone can say that with confidence about any of the quarterbacks. Heck, a popular comparison for Stroud is… Jared Goff.
If the Lions swing and miss a quarterback prospect, it won’t ruin the whole team, but it will be them back at square one in the game’s most important position. It’s not a good place to be. Just ask the Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, Washington Commanders or Cleveland Browns.
The exchange is rarely worth it
While Holmes has been selectively aggressive in the draft for two years — repeatedly trading to get “his guy,” that, as a long-term strategy, is inherently flawed. Several studies have shown that the team that trades in the draft most often ends up getting the worst deal.
Take, for example, this study of NFL draft trades from Bruin Sports Analytics that used career proxy value to gauge which team typically wins a trade in the draft, and they came to this conclusion (emphasis added) :
When comparing the value earned on each side of the trade, a strong advantage was given to the team that traded down. Not only was the average AV career difference substantial, but trade dips were much less likely to result in a very low return value.
Even last year’s decision to trade for Jameson Williams remains a very dangerous move that certainly hasn’t paid off yet. Following that up with another risky trade would suggest a dangerous habit for Holmes.