As we inch closer to the draft, Pride of Detroit will run down the roster to examine the state of each position. Today we begin with quarterback.
New to the team: Shaun Hill (acquired in a trade from San Francisco for a 2011 seventh-round pick)
After drafting Matthew Stafford with the No. 1 overall pick a year ago, the Lions no longer had to worry about finding a franchise quarterback. That's not to say that Stafford will for sure turn out to be a franchise quarterback when all is said and done, but that need went away the second he was signed to a deal in April of last year.
Stafford showed glimpses of greatness during the 2009 season that gave all Lions fans hope going forward, but the story of last year was not being able to stay healthy. In 2010 and beyond the key to Stafford playing well and the key to the Lions winning games really comes down to him not being injured. The 2009 season forced him to deal with multiple injuries, although he is expected to be 100% in the near future if he's not there already.
One of the focal points of this offseason was finding a competent backup in case Stafford does get hurt again. One thing that was obvious in 2009 was that the Lions' chances of winning greatly decreased with Daunte Culpepper at the helm. That is why acquiring Shaun Hill was so important. Hill is an excellent backup who has experience as a starter from his days in San Francisco. Obviously the hope is that we never have to see Hill play unless it is at the end of a game with the Lions leading comfortably, but the reality of the situation is that a backup plan is necessary in case Stafford does go down. With Hill now penciled in as the backup for 2010, I feel a hell of a lot better about the Lions' chances of winning if it becomes necessary for the second-string QB to play compared to last year.
The only other quarterback on the roster right now is Drew Stanton. Because of Stafford's injuries and Culpepper's ineffectiveness, Stanton got a chance to show what he's got towards the end of last season. Needless to say, he didn't exactly show a whole lot. I don't want to completely write off Stanton because some players just take longer to develop and he hasn't had much consistency with his coaches during his NFL career, but this could be a make or break summer for the former Michigan State Spartan, which leads me to my next point.
Need going forward?
The Lions have already solidified the top two slots of the depth chart at quarterback with Stafford and Hill, but I would not be surprised if Detroit added one more QB before we get to training camp. With three seventh-round picks, it's definitely possible that the Lions could draft a quarterback in the final round. If they don't do that, they could simply sign someone who goes undrafted or just bring in a free agent QB that has been around the league already to challenge Drew Stanton for the third QB spot on the roster.
There isn't a pressing need to find a QB that is going to be ready to play at any given moment in 2010, but I do think there is a need for competition, especially with Stanton. Adding a fourth QB, either via the end of the draft or via free agency, would be a good way to push Stanton during training camp. At the same time, it's possible that the Lions could find someone with potential and decide to keep him over Stanton come September. Right now Stafford and Hill are locked in, but that third spot at quarterback could become wide open if the Lions decide they want to add another player to the mix.