Tuesday, ESPN’s Jon Gruden, famed griller of quarterbacks, spoke on a conference call, and gave Detroit Lions’ fans something to think about regarding the position during the later rounds of the NFL Draft.
Even though Matthew Stafford is penciled in as the starter, is it time for the team to start developing a better backup option? Gruden thinks the team might choose to do that, and named San Jose State’s David Fales and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd as quarterback options the team could consider later in the draft.
“There’s a couple guys, I think, that might appeal to the Lions,” Gruden said in a conference call via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “I know they took a kid (as an undrafted free agent) a couple years ago, Kellen Moore out of Boise (State). I’m sure they’ll look to find someone else they can develop for the future as well.”
Detroit has reportedly already conducted private workouts with a few SEC standouts in Georgia’s Aaron Murray and LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, but each of those quarterbacks could figure into the mix during rounds earlier than the Lions could be willing to take a signal caller, especially if there’s an early run at the position and needy teams feel as if they’re getting left out.
Out of the group that’s next including Fales, Connor Shaw and Stephen Morris, Boyd’s is the name that jumps out. Once considered a major talent and potential early round pick, his up and down final year at Clemson have caused some to think twice. That doesn’t mean that Boyd is any less talented or coachable when it comes to a team trying to develop a backup, however.
As far as a quarterback who could stand up to an NFL beating, Boyd has the thick body and the strong arm to do the job. He can stand in the pocket, escape with mobility and throw on the run when need be. On tape, Boyd doesn’t look the part of a fifth or sixth round pick, where many are projecting him to be selected. With Detroit, Boyd’s escapability could provide an interesting dynamic for an already explosive offense. He’s almost like a younger, more agile version of Daunte Culpepper. Though the older version of Culpepper was already a punch line in Detroit, the younger version would have likely been accepted in a heartbeat.
Detroit’s not looking for a quarterback to replace or push Stafford so much as a security blanket that can run the offense in his potential absence and provide a wrinkle for teams to think about. The Lions once had that man in Shaun Hill, who decided to leave. Dan Orlovsky will be a serviceable backup, but offers little else. Kellen Moore hasn’t exactly taken the next step when given the opportunity.
At this point, the Lions need someone with upside for Jim Caldwell. If they decide to take a quarterback, Boyd is the player who looks the part of a major late round value, and someone who could develop into a solid secondary option for years.