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3 reasons why the Detroit Lions should go all-in for Anthony Richardson

The Detroit Lions hold the sixth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft thanks to the Matthew Stafford trade. While this could provide an opportunity for the team to trade down or add a player to improve defensively, Detroit should go all-in on quarterback Anthony Richardson.

Detroit originally acquired Jared Goff for the purposes of having a bridge starter until they found a franchise quarterback and to receive a stronger return from the Los Angeles Rams. It all worked out perfectly, providing the Lions with the opportunity to trade up for Jameson Williams, a top-six pick in 2023 and quality play from Goff.

Related: 2023 NFL mock draft

However, Detroit would not be taking complete advantage of this if it doesn’t take Richardson in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Lions’ organization has created the perfect environment for a young, developmental quarterback to grow and eventually blossom into a star. This could also be the last opportunity for Detroit to have a potential franchise-caliber quarterback at the top of a draft.

Let’s examine exactly why the Lions should draft Anthony Richardson.

Detroit Lions offer the perfect environment for development

NFL: Detroit Lions at Pittsburgh Steelers
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NFL teams are right when it comes to their concern about Richardson’s potential landing spot. If he is drafted by a team that pushes him to start in Week 1, it could stunt his development. Furthermore, it’s also imperative for Richardson to land in the right environment with a great locker room and coaching staff behind him. It’s all about allowing. This isn’t about Richardson’s maturity or work ethic, teammates raved about his leadership and coaches gushed about his work ethic and attention to detail.

Related: Detroit Lions mock draft 2023

We emphasize Richardson landing with a team of great coaches and a strong, veteran-heavy locker room because of how it helps foster growth. The 21-year-old quarterback would have the opportunity to spend his rookie season learning from Ben Johnson, one of the best offensive minds and teachers in the game. He would also spend every day being coached up in the film room by quarterbacks coach Mark Brunell and assistant quarterbacks coach J.T. Barrett, that’s a wealth of sources for knowledge to learn from.

Even if Richardson doesn’t get to operate Johnson’s offense, with Goff starting in 2023, he would still benefit a lot from working with the Lions’ offensive coordinator. Johnson, who will likely be an NFL head coach in 2024, was critical to Goff’s rejuvenated play that was reminiscent of his best days with Sean McVay as his play-caller.

  • Jared Goff stats (2017): 73.7 PFF grade, 100.5 QB RATING, 28-7 TD-INT, 8 ypa, 62.1% completion rate, 253.6 pass ypg, 5.9% TD rate, 1.5% INT rate
  • Jared Goff stats (2022): 72.4 PFF grade, 99.3 QB rating, 29-7 TD-INT, 7.6 ypa, 65.1% completion, 261.1 pass ypg, 4.9% TD rate, 1.2% INT rate

Not only that, Richardson could learn from veteran quarterbacks. Goff would be an excellent mentor, showing Richardson the work it takes to prepare as a starting quarterback in the NFL and he can relate to the pressures of being a top pick. If Detroit signs Teddy Bridgewater, it would add another quarterback with starting experience who can offer advice. Combining all of this with the positive and like-minded culture created in Detroit, it’s an ideal fit for Richardson.

Anthony Richardson will be surrounded by impact talent

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions
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Environment and the supporting cast are critical factors that determine if a young quarterback is successful. Look at Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Tua Tagovailoa, Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts and Joe Burrow as some of the best examples. Rodgers and Brady learned fro Hall of Famers then played behind a great offensive line, Tagovailoa, while Hurts and Burrow have some of the best offensive weapons in the NFL. As for Mahomes, he learned from Alex Smith for a year then stepped into Andy Reid’s offense with future Hall of Famers in Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill.

The Lions already have an outstanding foundation in place. Detroit’s offensive line was ranked as the eighth-best in football by Pro Football Focus and the core group is under contract through 2024. For Richardson, who is already adept at evading sacks and extending plays, this would just make life in the pocket even easier.

Detroit also boasts an impressive cast of offensive weapons. Amon-Ra St. Brown – 111.8 passer rating when targeted – is one of the best slot receivers in the NFL and a quarterback’s best friend. Jameson Williams, viewed as the best receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft before his ACL tear, will be fully healthy moving forward and will become an elite vertical threat in this offense.

Related: Anthony Richardson scouting report

Richardson would have two outstanding wide receivers, a great offensive line and a front office that keeps demonstrating it can find talent in both free agency and every round of the draft. Put that with an improving defense and you’d have the perfect environment for Richardson to thrive.

Detroit can’t pass on its last chance at a franchise-caliber quarterback

NFL: Detroit Lions at New York Jets
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Finally, we arrive at the most important reason why the Lions must go all-in for Anthony Richardson. Based on the roster Brad Holmes already assembled and the work Dan Campbell is doing, Detroit likely won’t even have a top-20 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft order

Related: NFL teams share similar hesitation with Anthony Richardson

The Lions should win the NFC North in 2023, boasting the best offense in the division and an improved defense that should deliver more well-rounded play. Even if the 2024 quarterback class is better at the top, Detroit won’t be in a position where any team with a top-five pick would entertain moving down that far.

  • Anthony Richardson stats (2022): 2,549 pass yards, 131 QB rating, 17-9 TD-INT, 53.8% completion rate, 654 rushing yards, 9 rushing touchdowns

As a result, the Lions would be stuck with either sticking with their low-ceiling quarterback (Goff) or hoping to sign an older version of him (Kirk Cousins), a move that wouldn’t let this franchise compete for a Super Bowl.

Now is the time for Detroit to be aggressive, even if it means trading up for the third overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. There is a risk of Richardson becoming a draft bust, but his ceiling is an MVP-caliber quarterback who can help his team compete for the Lombardi Trophy. You only get one shot at a superstar-caliber player, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime for a coach and general manager so the Lions have to take it.

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