2024 NFL Draft: Detroit Lions have selected Qwan’tez Stiggers for…

2024 NFL Draft: Why the Detroit Lions should select Qwan’tez Stiggers.

Here’s why the Detroit Lions should draft Qwan’tez Stiggers in the 2024 NFL Draft.

The NFL Draft is a time when teams and fans alike become captivated by amazing stories. Aidan Hutchinson was drafted by the team he grew up idolizing. Josh Paschal overcame a cancer diagnosis to return to football at the University of Kentucky. Could Qwan’tez Stiggers, the prospect with no college experience, be next for the spotlight in Detroit?

The Toronto Argonauts cornerback is by far the most interesting prospect in the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft, but will that translate to his name being called—and if so, when?

How is a CFL player eligible for the NFL Draft?

Qwan’tez Stiggers plays for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, and that alone makes him among the most intriguing prospects in recent history. Typically, the CFL is comprised of players that have already been considered draft-eligible. When a player goes from Canada down south—such as with former BC Lion and current Detroit Lions edge defender Mathieu Betts—they sign with an NFL team as a free agent. Their draft rights have already been exercised after finishing school.

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Stiggers, however, is the rare case of a CFL player with NFL Draft eligibility. He did not play in college due to the death of his father before rekindling his football journey with the Fan Controlled Football League and later CFL. Because his draft eligibility clock had never started, it means an NFL team could draft him in 2024. Stiggers is just 22 years old, so he is a similar age to most prospects entering the draft. The Argonauts still have him under contract, but they would almost certainly release him to explore an NFL opportunity. Interestingly, he would not be the first Toronto Argonaut to be drafted in NFL history—back in 1991, the Argos signed projected first-overall pick Rocket Ismail to a lucrative contract, causing the receiver to fall to the fourth round of the draft. A different circumstance, but a fun footnote nonetheless.

What makes Stiggers special on the field

The story of Stiggers will be the talk of the draft, but his play is nothing to scoff at. For a player with essentially no professional experience, Stiggers was a natural in 2023. The highlight of his stat sheet is the five interceptions, and his ballhawking ways should translate to the NFL:

Stiggers has an edge over every other cornerback prospect in this year’s draft class: he already has professional experience. While the CFL is a lower tier than the NFL, the fact remains that a majority of college players fail to reach any level of professional football. You could argue that on average, Stiggers was playing better receivers than Quinyon Mitchell did at Toledo in 2023. Not only that, the CFL rulebook allows for receivers to be in motion prior to the snap, including a running start. Coupled with the CFL requiring a one-yard neutral zone, Stiggers was often put into situations where opposing receivers had the first step on him (often literally).

Yet despite that disadvantage, Stiggers shined with fluidity and explosiveness, traits that are always coveted in the NFL. His athleticism pops on film, and his testing numbers back it up:

How will he transition from CFL to NFL?

Competition level aside, the move from CFL to NFL will be no easy feat. I already mentioned how the CFL game puts defensive backs at a disadvantage, and you would assume that Stiggers would therefore benefit from a move down south. However, there is more at play.

Due to that larger neutral zone in the CFL than NFL, defensive backs typically do not play press, meaning they are rarely up in a receiver’s face right off the snap—the CFL rulebook doesn’t lend itself to that playstyle, as a receiver will simply run by at full speed. If the Lions are transitioning to a more man-heavy defensive scheme, Stiggers would not be a plug-and-play type of defensive back. He has the athleticism (and the swagger) to play in man coverage, but he lacks experience, plain and simple.

Additionally, the CFL field is wider than in the NFL: 65 yards in the CFL, 53.3 yards in the NFL. This 12-yard difference plays a major role in the timing of passes. Any passes to the outside of the field have to travel that extra distance, giving defensive backs just a split second more time to react to a play. I do not believe that Stiggers’ interceptions or pass breakups were entirely due to this reason, but it is a factor that could affect his move to the NFL.

The CFL also features three downs instead of the NFL’s four, and as a result, the run game plays a lesser role. For reference, only three running backs exceeded 200 carries in the CFL last season across an 18-game season and nine teams. The NFL, meanwhile, had 23 players carry the ball over 200 times. Stiggers will need to demonstrate growth in run defense, though his tackling is fairly sound.

How would he fit with the Lions?

Stiggers would not be a Day 1 starter for the Lions barring an amazing training camp, and that is perfectly fine. With Carlton Davis and Amik Robertson ahead of him, Stiggers would easily slot into the role of high-upside depth, something drastically missing from the Lions roster right now—the next-best project is probably the undrafted Steven Gilmore.

Stiggers has demonstrated that he is a quick learner and I do not doubt he can learn an NFL system and contribute within his rookie season. Even if he does not crack the starting lineup, he has experience as a gunner and could be a capable special teamer right away. The Lions lost Chase Lucas in free agency and Will Harris is still a free agent, so multiple special teams snaps are up for grabs.

What is his draft value?

Where will Stiggers be drafted? There’s the rub that Stiggers and NFL teams will face. How do you balance the lack of college experience with the valuable professional experience? Stiggers could feasibly be selected anywhere from round three to round seven—where he lands will come down to which team believes in him the most.

In an alternate reality where Stiggers plays his 2023 season on a college team instead of a CFL team, I genuinely believe he would be in the discussion for the first round. There is a stigma surrounding the CFL game that even the most open-minded coaches have difficulty avoiding. Stiggers has captivated many with his story, but that story will also be the reason he is drafted later than his talent might otherwise suggest.

Yet unlike other CFLers-turned-NFLers, his American team will have hand-picked the young 22-year-old. Stiggers would not be some afterthought or longshot that most CFL players are viewed as. He would be viewed as a true developmental asset. Holmes still has a majority of his draft picks under contract, so being selected by the Lions would be a commitment to Stiggers’ talent.


Even putting my bias aside as a Canadian and fan of the CFL, Stiggers would be an excellent selection for the Lions. Which round that could be, I cannot say, but I know that I would be happy to hear his name called this week.

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