Pat Caputo: Future is now for the Lions

The Lions’ future is now.

They are clearly ahead of schedule. There are multiple reasons why.

By far the most important; The first two drafts orchestrated by general manager Brad Holmes.

They haven’t been merely good, but great.

Potentially, they are the best back-to-back drafts in Lions’ history.

Certainly that’s true since the merger with the AFL formed the modern NFL in 1970.

It’s not an exaggeration.

The Lions took Hall of Famers, cornerback Lem Barney and tight end Charlie Sanders, in the 1967 and 1968 drafts. They also selected offensive rookie of the years in receiver in Earl McCullough and back Mel Farr, a one-time Pro Bowl quarterback with Greg Landry and decade-long starters in linebacker Paul Naumoff and safety Mike Weger in those drafts.

Yeah. The best back-to-back drafts in 55 years and potentially the best in franchise history. Oh, and 1969 wasn’t very good. Why? The Lions fired the director of player personnel, former All-Pro linebacker Carl Brettschneider, in a power struggle with longtime GM Russ Thomas. It was the start of several poor decisions by Ford ownership in regard to front office leadership.

There are no such issues at this time.

The Lions have been notorious for being spotty in the first round, and missing badly in the rounds beyond.

Not only have Holmes’ initial two first-round picks Penei Sewell and Aidan Hutchinson shown All Pro ability, so has 2021 fourth-round receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.

Kerby Joseph, Malcom Rodriguez and Alim McNeill are solid starters with upside. James Houston is a sack machine.

With four picks in the first two rounds, the Lions are setup to go back-to-back-to-back with high-level drafts.

Add $25 million in dead cap space coming off the books from the doomed free agent signings of Trey Flowers and Jamie Collins by the Bob Quinn regime, and you have the stuff of genuine Super Bowl contenders.

The NFC is much weaker than the AFC, which is the conference of such brilliant young QBs as Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson and Trevor Lawrence.

Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers in the NFC are on the decline.

The Lions should win the NFC North in 2023.

The Vikings lived a charmed life this season, the Packers are in disarray and the Bears at rock bottom.

The Lions should go 5-1 in their division again. While their road schedule is difficult, the Lions have a cup cake home slate.

Eleven or more wins and their first division title in 30 years is not only possible, but probable.

Sound too good to be true?

Not this time.

Get the right coach, GM and draft exceptionally well, and NFL teams will win.

The Lions are no exception.

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