Former Lions QB Shaun Hill
The NFL, while a team sport, is very quarterback centric. If your team does not have a good quarterback, your chances of winning are very low. Only a small handful of quarterbacks have won a Superbowl by being average. Each of those quarterbacks had a very strong defense that they relied on and they minimized their mistakes while playing possession football. So it goes without saying that every team is in need of a good quarterback.
The Detroit Lions currently have a good quarterback in Matthew Stafford. While he is not one of the best in the NFL, he has shown that he can be one of the best if he can be more consistent. At his current age, he also has room to grow into his potential, so he is not a project on the verge of being abandoned. So with that being said, why on earth would the Lions even consider drafting a quarterback? They currently have Kellen Moore on roster and they signed Dan Orlovsky in free agency. There are three components that I am going to explore here which help with this decision, even though it is not a sure thing that the Lions even draft one.
The first component I want to look at is the loss of Shaun Hill. Shaun Hill is one of the league’s best backup quarterbacks. He is a former starter with the San Francisco Forty Niners. In spot duty for the Lions when healthy, he was fantastic. There were times when fans were calling for Hill to start when Stafford was struggling. Stafford at one point stated that Shaun Hill brings a level of calmness to the quarterback meetings and to the locker room. Given his experience, leadership qualities, and his abilities that he brought to the Lions, it is no wonder that when he left, a bit of panic set in. The Lions moved quickly to sign Orlovsky after Hill left for St Louis, but is that enough?
That brings me to the second component, Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell. As many may remember, Jim Caldwell was the Indianapolis Colts’ head coach during the last few years of Peyton Manning’s time there. When Manning underwent season ending surgery, Caldwell was left to rely on his backup quarterbacks. In the offseason the Colts had signed Kerry Collins to start in Manning’s absence. Collins got hurt and Curtis Painter, who was Manning’s backup for 2009 and 2010, stepped into the starting role. He played poorly as well, forcing Caldwell to look at Orlovsky who did the best of the three backups. While he played well enough for Caldwell to bring him to Detroit, I do not think Caldwell wants to rest his career on Orlovsky. With Kellen Moore still being an unproven, it is expected that Caldwell will want a rookie to go with Stafford and Orlovsky.
The third and final component is the quarterback crop of 2014. This year’s draft is said to have the best talent in years, and the quarterback position is included in that. There are twenty quarterbacks that are worth a look, and I would not be surprised if this draft yields at least four starters and another four quality backups. With that kind of talent, and with the extra picks that the Lions received as compensation for Cliff Avril and Gosder Cherilus, it seems like this year is the year to make the decision and select a backup quarterback.