Football Outsiders writer divulges Detroit Lions biggest need

The 2022 NFL Draft is just four days away and we will soon know which direction our Detroit Lions decide to go with the No. 2 and No. 32 overall pick in the opening round.

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Will the Lions draft based on need or will they select the best-available player when they are on the clock?

If they do draft based on need, what is the Lions' biggest need as we head into the draft?

Personally, I think adding a bonified stud to rush the passer is the Lions' biggest need at this moment in time, but Scott Spratt at our pals over at Football Outsiders does not agree.

Here is what Spratt has to say about the Lions' biggest need, quiet neet, and not a need.

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Biggest need: Quarterback

If Matthew Stafford proved the importance of context for quarterback success in his Super Bowl win in his first year with the Rams, you can likely guess how things went for his trade counterpart on the Lions. Jared Goff‘s minus-3.6% passing DVOA was his lowest since his rookie year in 2016, and it continued a three-year trend of decline from his peak 2017 and 2018 seasons that saw his lone trip to a Super Bowl.

Recent record extensions for quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson have rendered Goff's annual contract average of $33.5 million palatable. And Goff may even return to above-average efficiency as the Lions add receiving talent such as DJ Chark Jr. and perhaps a 2022 rookie while Amon-Ra St. Brown enters his second season. The Lions will very likely take a swing at the position in the next year or two. And Goff's standard of competence gives the team the buffer to draft a less-ready but higher-ceiling quarterback such as Malik Willis — a buffer that a more desperate team such as the Panthers might not have.

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Prospects who might fit: Malik WillisDesmond RidderMatt Corral

Quiet need: Linebacker

Lions head coach Dan Campbell knew he inherited a fixer-upper. But the toughness-minded Campbell could not have been thrilled to finish 31st in run defense DVOA, especially after he picked 330- and 295-pound defensive tackles Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeil in the second and third rounds of his first draft with the team. Onwuzurike and McNeil were part of the problem. Their struggles held them to just six combined starts. But the Lions also underwhelmed at linebacker, where positional snaps leader Alex Anzalone allowed a 34.8% broken tackle rate — the highest among players with 25 or more tackles, per Sports Info Solutions charting — that carried the team to its last-place total of 157 broken tackles. Fourth-round rookie Derrick Barnes showed promise with a 15.4% broken tackle rate, but the Lions need more help after starter Jalen Reeves-Maybin left for the Texans in free agency.

Prospects who might fit: Nakobe DeanChanning Tindall

Not a need: Offensive line

Campbell can at least take solace in the promise of his inside-out rebuild on offense. Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow and tackle Taylor Decker missed half of last season with toe and finger injuries that landed the team in the middle of the pack in adjusted line yards (4.09, 21st) and adjusted sack rate (5.8%, 12th). But Ragnow and Decker should both be healthy for offseason team activities. They and fellow starters Penei SewellJonah Jackson and Halapoulivaati Vaitai blew 2.7% or less of their blocks when they played in 2021. And all five are under contract for multiple seasons, Sewell and Jackson on inexpensive rookie deals.

Nation, what do you think? What is the Detroit Lions biggest need heading into the draft?

Youmans 2022 NFL mock draft 2.0: Stingley Jr. at No. 2?

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