Detroit Lions GM Brad Holmes: 'I like the QBs coming out in this year’s draft'

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Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press
·5 min read
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Mel Kiper Jr. does not believe the Detroit Lions should consider a quarterback in the first round of this year's NFL draft, but general manager Brad Holmes may have other ideas.

Asked about the strengths and weaknesses of this year's draft in a video conference Tuesday, Holmes said two positions in particular are especially deep: Safety and quarterback.

"I think that the quarterback class is good this year," Holmes said. "I like the crop of quarterbacks that are coming out in this year’s draft, so that’s obviously always a very, very important position."

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Lions general manager Brad Holmes on Jan. 19, 2021.
Lions general manager Brad Holmes on Jan. 19, 2021.

The Lions will acquire quarterback Jared Goff in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams when the new league year opens later this month, but still may be in the market for a young signal caller.

Goff, 26, led the Rams to the Super Bowl in the> 2018 season, but fell out of favor in Los Angeles after back-to-back nine-win seasons in which the offense underperformed.

Holmes, who previously worked as the Rams' director of college scouting, cannot talk publicly about Goff until the trade is finalized, per NFL rules, and it's unclear if the Lions view him as their long-term solution at the position.

They do have a top-10 draft pick for the third straight season, and thus the ability to draft one of the top quarterback prospects.

Clemson's Trevor Lawrence is expected to go No. 1 overall, and four other quarterbacks - Ohio State's Justin Fields, BYU's Zach Wilson, North Dakota State's Trey Lance and Alabama's Mac Jones - are likely first-round picks.

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"What’s cool about this year is that they’re in all different flavors," Holmes said. "You have a guy that can actually do it all, can do it from the pocket, do it with his legs. You have another guy that’s probably a little bit more does it with his legs, a little bit more being creative. There’s another guy that actually probably does it more from the pocket, so all the different flavors makes it very, very intriguing in terms of when you’re looking across the whole scope of the class of these quarterbacks.

"But I do think again, when you’re picking in the top 10, I don’t think you can ignore and I think it’s just smart, it’s smart drafting business anyways that when you’re picking in the top 10 that you make sure that you know that quarterback class very thoroughly."

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields attempts a pass in the College Football Playoff semifinal against Clemson at the Allstate Sugar Bowl in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Jan. 1, 2021.
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields attempts a pass in the College Football Playoff semifinal against Clemson at the Allstate Sugar Bowl in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Jan. 1, 2021.

Kiper said in a conference call Monday that the Lions, with myriad holes to fill on both sides of the ball, would be wise to pass on a quarterback and build around Goff.

"I would not consider a quarterback if I were the Lions," Kiper said. "I think Jared Goff is a 26-year-old quarterback who has been to a Super Bowl, was off to the races as a great No. 1 pick overall and all that. Now you have people that are familiar with him, he’s familiar with in terms of the (new Lions) front office. To me, you build around the quarterback."

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Lions coach Dan Campbell told the Free Press in January his ideal quarterback is mobile and has a strong arm, but he said he values intangibles above everything else.

Holmes said Tuesday that Campbell and offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn have been "in lockstep in terms of" their vision for position within their offense.

"I think first and foremost, I’d want a guy that I feel like has leadership qualities," Campbell said in January. "He doesn’t have to be a loud, rah-rah guy, but he needs to be able to command the huddle. I think he needs to be able to communicate. You’d be surprised how many guys in here are perceived as good quarterbacks in this league but they don’t know how to communicate. They got the arm talent, they have all these things, but yet they can’t — they struggle to get it out of their mouths so we can get lined up fast enough for him to check out to coverage.

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff throws a touchdown pass against the Minnesota Vikings at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Sept. 27, 2018.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff throws a touchdown pass against the Minnesota Vikings at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Sept. 27, 2018.

"I think to have somebody that people would rally around and the guys in the locker room gravitate to, and they understand that, that player’s got some grit and toughness about him. And so, honestly, I kind of view the intangibles of a quarterback more than I do arm strength, like arm talent. You can’t be a weak-armed guy, but I’d rather have a guy that he’s an accurate passer, he makes smart decisions. Certainly, would like a little more of a mobile quarterback because in today’s game, it’s hard when you’re a guy who can’t move around in the pocket. That’s kind of my vision for a quarterback."

Last year, the Lions gave only fleeting consideration to drafting a quarterback with the No. 3 overall pick. One quarterback they passed on, Justin Herbert, looks like a future star, while the jury is out another, Tua Tagovailoa.

Despite Kiper's suggestion to target other positions at No. 7, Holmes said he will evaluate all the top quarterbacks to "see what their superpower is and is that superpower the best thing that’s going to fit for the Lions."

"When you’re picking inside the top 10, you better know every single position regardless of what your circumstance is currently on your roster," he said. "There’s really not a position that I can sit here and say that I see as thin right now just because in relative to where we’re picking at, we have to be prepared to know all positions, and that’s part of the process that we’re doing now."

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions GM Brad Holmes a big fan of QB class in 2021 NFL draft