In what will be an ongoing series, I will be taking a look at each position on the Detroit Lions roster and examine where things stand, who has the best shot at making the final 53-man roster, and whether or not we improved in this area. First up is the most important position of them all — Quarterback.
Even though Matthew Stafford didn’t exactly have the best 2013 season, the Detroit Lions remain confident that he will continue to be their starter moving forward, and that this revamped coaching staff will try to fix the inconsistencies in his game that the previous coaching staff ignored.
Chances of making final roster: 100% (undisputed starter)
Behind Stafford, you have former Lions quarterback and NFL journeyman Dan Orlovsky, who signed a one-year deal worth $920,000 with the Lions this off-season. Many Lions fans will remember him for being “that one guy who ran out of his own endzone for a safety.”
As of right now it’s looking like he may win the backup job, but of course it’s early and that could change in a moment’s notice.
Chances of making final roster: 95% (presumed backup)
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Moore will most likely be competing with Orlovsky for the backup quarterback position, and he has a strong chance at winning it.
Now a third-year player out of Boise State, Kellen Moore’s weakness has never been his intelligence or ability to understand a playbook. What separates him from the top players at his position is his lack of athleticism and poor arm strength.
Moore had a strong showing during last year’s preseason, but still looked uncomfortable in the pocket and didn’t show much of his increased arm strength that had been talked about all training camp long.
He will need to spend more time in the weight room if he wants a legitimate shot at winning the backup QB job, but it’s always good to have someone with an exceptional understanding of the playbook and sport in general on your bench.
Chances of making final roster: 75% (will likely make final cut assuming the Lions keep three QBs)
The Detroit Lions and many other NFL franchises often end up signing an undrafted free agent quarterback as a camp body following the NFL Draft. However, that is not the case for UDFA QB James Franklin. With the lack of talent at the QB position this year, Franklin has a legitimate shot at finding a spot on the Lions 53-man roster.
So far, it’s been reported that Franklin hasn’t seen much time under center during mandatory mini-camps and OTAs, but there is plenty of time left for the former Missouri quarterback. He’s not at a complete disadvantage like most UDFAs are on their new teams, because he’s just one of four guys learning a completely new playbook.
Franklin is very athletic and can make plays on his feet, which is something his counterparts aren’t able to do.
He suffered a shoulder injury last October sidelining him for over a month of action, but as of now he’s ready to go and will be looking to make a name for himself whether he makes the Lions roster or not.
Chances of making final roster: 20% (will be tough to beat out an experienced player like Moore, and won’t receive too many opportunities with guys like Stafford and Orlovsky trying to get reps in with the new playbook)
Did They Improve?
In a general sense, no. You could argue that Stafford may improve because we finally brought in some coaches that are willing to admit that there are some kinks in his game that need to be fixed, but there is no guarantee there.
The Lions lost their backup quarterback Shaun Hill to the Rams in free agency this year. Hill is set to have a $1.75 million cap hit for the Rams in 2014, which was probably too steep of a price for the Lions who had other needs and little money to work with. That doesn’t change the fact that Hill was arguably one of the best backups in the NFL during his stint with the Lions, and he will surely be missed if Stafford misses any time this year.