The Big Gamble

The Detroit Lions debated quite a bit, but in the end selected hopeful-franchise QB Joey Harrington. Detroit kept their war room relatively silent prior to the selection, forcing NFL correspondents to wonder whether or not the team was going to draft defensively, or pick up Harrington.

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Over the past few months the Detroit Lions have been in heavy debate over who to take with their top selection, third overall. From Joey Harrington to Roy Williams to Quentin Jammer and back again, there has been serious debate over who the Lions would select. Well, the day finally came, and the Lions elected to go after that desirable franchise Quarterback, selecting Oregon Quarterback Joey Harrington.

After the first two expected picks (Fresno State Quarterback David Carr to Houston and North Carolina Defensive End Julius Peppers), the Lions came up on the clock. The Lions selection was the real start of the draft, as some called it. The Lions took their time, waiting to the final 2 minutes of their allotted 15 minutes before making their selection. It is suspected that President/GM Matt Millen was on the phone until the final moments searching for a possible trade, possibly with Dallas who held the sixth overall pick. However, no trade was good enough for the Lions, and so the Lions pulled the trigger, selecting the Oregon product.

The debate within the Lions probably wasn’t on whether or not Harrington was good enough to be drafted this high, but rather was Mike McMahon good enough that Harrington wasn’t needed. However, as Matt Millen said, this shouldn’t be a reflection on how they feel about McMahon, but rather the need to fill a need. By selecting Harrington, the Lions feel that they no longer have to worry about their starting Quarterback. The most important position on the field will no longer be an issue for the Detroit Lions.

Harrington isn’t like most other top draft picks, outside of the fact that he’s a Quarterback, always a position in high demand on draft weekend. But unlike most other prospects, Harrington isn’t a physical specimen. He can’t run a 4.4 40-yard dash, he doesn’t have a cannon arm, and while he has great size he’s not very mobile in the pocket. However, Harrington possesses something different. Similar to QB’s like Brett Favre and Joe Montana, when the game is on the line in the Fourth Quarter, you want the ball in his hands, and he wants the ball in his hands as well. The biggest question is can this ability carry over from the college game to the pro game.

Now, the new regime has stuck their necks out. Despite an obvious need at Cornerback, as well as serious needs at Running Back, Tight End, Defensive End and Outside Linebacker, Millen and Head Coach Marty Mornhinweg elected to take a Quarterback. If Harrington falls flat on his face, it will probably cost Mornhinweg and/or Millen their jobs and it will set the franchise back another few seasons. If Harrington turns out to be that franchise Quarterback that they were coveting, the Lions are now headed in the right direction. Time will tell, but the question will be, how much time?


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