Jimmy Johnson was the architect of two Super Bowl titles for the Cowboys, primarily by way of the draft. And the Hall of Fame coach has some advice for Bob Quinn and the Lions as they prepare to draft third overall on Thursday.
But don't take whatever's on the table.
"I would think long and hard about taking a quarterback if I didn’t get a trade that I wanted," Johnson said Monday on Fox Football Now. "You can say, ‘Well, how about the cornerback, or how about the offensive lineman, or how about the defensive end?' You tell me, what’s more valuable: an outstanding cornerback or a franchise quarterback?"
The caveat, of course, is that the Lions already have their franchise quarterback in Matthew Stafford. (They also signed backup Chase Daniel to a three-year deal this offseason.) And they badly need a No. 1 corner to replace Darius Slay. Doesn't matter, says Johnson. They should still consider Tua or Herbert third overall.
"Without question," he said. "If I didn’t get the trade I wanted, I would take one of those franchise quarterbacks."
In Johnson's mind, it would give Detroit two options. They could either groom Tua or Herbert to be Stafford's replacement and then deal Stafford later, or deal Tua or Herbert to a quarterback-needy team for a bigger return than the No. 3 pick would bring in right now.
"Because I promise you, the value of those players will go up," he said. "People get desperate when they don’t have a quarterback, and I promise you, they’ll get more than a No. 1 pick (in return). You might be able to get two 1’s and a 2, you might get two 1’s and two 2’s, you might even get a player. Hey, just be patient, because it’ll pay dividends down the road.
Problem is, Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia need to win this season to keep their jobs, and drafting a QB third overall to sit on the bench -- or play for another team -- doesn't help their cause. What's more, Tua and Herbert are by no mean locks to succeed in the NFL. What are they worth if they don't pan out? Even if they do pan out, Johnson's setting the bar a little high with multiple first- and second-round picks.
The Lions aren't in any position to be taking risks with the No. 3 pick. They need a star on defense and they need him now. The safe move is Okudah, or Isaiah Simmons or Derrick Brown, and it's the only move for Detroit.