QB James Franklin (Missouri) - Undrafted free agent
It looked like the Detroit Lions might draft a quarterback this year, but that didn't end up happening. Instead, they went the route of adding an undrafted free agent by signing Missouri's James Franklin.
Height: 6-foot-2 | Weight: 228 pounds
2010: 11/14 (78.6%), 106 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 23 carries, 116 yards, 2 TD
2011: 238/376 (63.3%), 2,865 yards, 21 TD, 11 INT, 217 carries, 981 yards, 15 TD
2012: 139/234 (59.4%), 1,562 yards, 10 TD, 7 INT, 88 carries, 122 yards
2013: 198/319 (62.1%), 2,429 yards, 19 TD, 6 INT, 122 carries, 510 yards, 4 TD
Thanks to conference realignment, Franklin played in the Big 12 during his first two years at Missouri and the SEC during his final two years in college.
What the experts are saying
A multi-dimensional athlete capable of beating defenses with both his strong right arm and legs, Franklin emerged [in 2011] to score 36 touchdowns against just 11 interceptions. He completed 63.3% of his passes and has an efficient, over the top release that aids the fact that he's shorter than scouts would prefer.
Franklin has had good production the last three seasons at Missouri, but he has a problem with durability. He missed time last year (three games) and has not played in the last four games this year. Franklin has good size (6’2 – 230) to go along with good, but not great, athletic ability. He plays from a spread formation where they pass the ball about 60% of the time. They also do a lot of read option in the run game. Franklin looks to have better than average straight line speed, but I would not call him a quick footed, elusive athlete. At times, he can be almost flat footed in the pocket and his ability to avoid pass rushers is average. He is a better ball carrier than scrambler.
Franklin looked like a legitimate NFL prospect after his sophomore season but injuries and confidence concerns plagued him the following two years. He's an athletic quarterback capable of handling a read-option attack once he gets his game back on track and consistently plays to his talent.
Franklin was having a monster of a year for the Tigers, throwing 19 TDs and completing over 62% of his passes, while also rushing for over 500 yards and four TDs before suffering a shoulder injury. He’s noted for his leadership and fearlessness.
He has a decent arm, though a wonky delivery often takes away from his velocity. If he can tighten up his mechanics and quicken his release, he should knock Kellen Moore off the roster.
Outlook for 2014
Franklin will compete with Kellen Moore for the Lions' No. 3 quarterback job. There's no guarantee that he will actually make the 53-man roster even if he wins that competition since the Lions could opt to keep only two quarterbacks, but he should at the very least make the practice squad if he is able to beat out Moore.