Wild Card

There has been much ado lately about Detroit's unsettled quarterback position.  They had five different quarterbacks take snaps last year, yet the team seems completely uncertain who, if the season started today, would be the starting quarterback.  I've heard every option thrown out there.  From Kitna taking over again, to Culpepper staying on, to resigning Orlovsky, to drafting someone, to trading for Matt Cassell, to looking at guys like Warner or Collins in free agency and the list goes on and on.  The intriguing part of this for me is who is not being talked about might be the best option.

Of course, this early in the year, management is not going to come out and endorse a starter at the QB position.  Not on a team that just went 0-16.  But the guy they are not mentioning could be the wild card they are holding as leverage through the draft.  No one's heard hide-nor-hair of Drew Stanton the last few weeks and there's several ways to take this silence. 

First, he may simply be a non-issue.  Schwartz and Linehan may have looked at his progress, style and mechanics and just said, "he's got too far to go and has no chance to start".  Simply put, he may be a project... nothing more.  Maybe there is just nothing to read into and he's just a guy under contract that gives them a little insurance as a third string guy who comes relatively cheap.  This could very well be the case, but I have to say that I don't buy into this approach easily.  In the few starts and small amount of playing time, he was no worse than any starter that got a full week of snaps in practice.  To be fair, he was probably the most exciting player that suited up last year at the position.  Kitna was his usual "try-to-do-too-much-with-not-enough-talent" self and continued his barrage of fourth quarter interceptions.  Culpepper was simply rusty and not ready to start.  Orlovsky played well at times, but appeared timid and did not take enough risks.  With Stanton, he never really wowed you, but you could see his enthusiasm and athleticism and could feel his potential with each snap.  I just can't imagine that he won't be given a chance next year.

The second way you can look at the Stanton situation is the fact that he could be the guy management has in mind for the starter.  Is this really so far fetched?  He was a second round pick and going into his third season.  He should be ready to start right now.  I know that he's had a rough start to his career, but with a full off-season under Linehan and some meaningful snaps/starts in pre-season, he should be ready to lead this team.  Mayhew may just be keeping this situation under wraps as leverage in the draft.  It could be that they believe in this kid and they have absolutely no intentions of drafting Stafford or Sanchez with the first overall pick.  They can even use this as trade leverage - although it'll be tough to trade out of that top pick anyway you slice it.  The funny thing is that no one is asking Mayhew, Lewand, Schwartz or Linehan questions about Stanton.  It's as if the media and fans have forgotten we have him.  I think this is mostly due to Marinelli/Martz/Colletto's mismanagement of him over the last two years.  People are just writing him off.  Also, he's under contract and so there is no reason to talk about him from that respect.  The fact is, he could indeed be the wild card that Mayhew has up his sleeve.  It might just surprise everyone come draft day or when they trade Kitna or release Culpepper or make some other surprising move that gives the first indication that Stanton might be given a shot.

This, of course, is all purely speculation on my part.  But management still has to have a plan for Stanton, regardless of whether it is challenging as a starter, trade bait or as Linehan's pet project.  I just find it a bit intriguing that no one has been talking about him and management has not mentioned him when discussing the quarterback situation for next year.  They might just have big plans for him.  What do you guys think?

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