As we start to look ahead to training camp, we're going to take a position-by-position look at the Detroit Lions roster. First up is the quarterback position. (The final year of each player's contract is listed in parentheses.)
Starters: Matthew Stafford (2017)
Backups: Dan Orlovsky (2016)
On the bubble: Jake Rudock (2019)
The depth chart at quarterback for the 2016 is pretty much set in stone. Unless Rudock drastically develops in the next two months, he will spend the season behind both Stafford and Orlovsky. As a sixth-round draft pick, Rudock will not be expected to contribute in any meaningful way his rookie season.
However, the big question is will the Lions commit a roster spot to Rudock or try to delegate him to the practice squad? Under Jim Caldwell, the Lions kept three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster in 2014, but only kept two in 2015.
Rudock is an interesting prospect. Many believe he underwent a grand transformation at Michigan, and if he continues to improve into his NFL career, the Lions may not want to risk losing him. By subjecting him to waivers in an attempt to get him on the practice squad, theoretically a team could sign him before a return to Detroit. On the other hand, Rudock also has a lot of room to improve, and if he slid all the way to the sixth round, there may not be that much of a market for a third-string quarterback on the waiver wire. The risk of subjecting him to the waivers may be no risk at all.
Need going forward?
As of right now, the Lions aren’t in much need of another quarterback on their roster. That being said, Orlovsky is only on a one-year contract. If the Lions don’t see quick development by Rudock over the course of the year, they may be searching for an adept backup again.
Also, Stafford is only under contract for two more seasons. Depending on how the season goes, the Lions will either be looking to lock up the veteran quarterback for another long-term contract, or if things go horribly, the Lions may start looking for a new quarterback of the future. The latter seems quite unlikely given where things currently stand with Stafford, but one bad year can change a lot for a franchise.