There were probably some folks that were excited when the Detroit Lions chose to use a sixth-round pick on Michigan’s Jake Rudock. Granted, most of those were likely wearing their maize and blue at their draft party, but those people exist. From a purely football standpoint, ignoring his school, there weren’t many who predicted the pick. Jake Rudock had one year of notable production and even saying that is generous since it really only came over a six game period. There was one prediction that came during the draft, though, and it came from yours truly. It’s also the reason I’m not concerned about his universally bad training camp performance, which culminated in a final poor outing at the end of the mock game on Saturday.
On a related note, you can probably pencil in Jake Rudock to the #Lions tomorrow. Yes, we're the ones. #Doh— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 30, 2016
That tweet was from me immediately following the Lions selection of Graham Glasgow in the third round. There was a little deductive reasoning here, since the team tried out several QBs including Rudock and it wasn't a big leap to think Rudock would have been the pick late in the draft. Notably, the team picked up Laken Tomlinson’s quarterback for training camp last year, so there’s even a precedent in place. There’s a little more to it, though, regarding the "Rothstein Scale" I created this offseason. In its early stages, it’s a slightly different method for evaluating quarterbacks, and how the Detroit Lions handle Rudock’s erratic passing in training camp will go a long way in helping develop it.
My expectation now is that Rudock will not make the final 53-man roster. The roster isn’t very strong, but there’s more value in keeping an extra receiver, DL, OL, or DB than there is in keeping Rudock as a developmental piece. Eight teams had pre-draft visits with Rudock and all of them are in a better situation than Detroit with their QB group. Should he be cut, I have no concerns that he’d clear waivers and be picked up for the practice squad; his poor training camp only makes that more likely. Yes, if Matthew Stafford goes down this team is screwed, but Orlovsky gives the team the best chance to limp to an occasional victory than Rudock would in the same situation.
Whether he’s retained or signed to the practice squad, the approach with Rudock would be the same: continue to work on his accuracy to get it to a serviceable level while developing his film room and playbook acumen, two areas that are more important than accuracy to a backup. A backup QB needs to bring some value on game day, and that’s what Rudock was drafted for. I don’t think anybody expected him to be as bad as he’s been in training camp, but it wasn’t so terrible that I feel the team will cut the cord and deviate from their initial plan to develop him into a good backup QB. They certainly won’t be cutting Dan Orlovsky any time soon, and the fact that they’ve made several roster moves during camp but none of those were to sign a new QB to compete with Rudock (despite normally carrying four QB in camp anyway, another indication they think they’re on track) is a good sign.
If the Detroit Lions are going to develop Jake Rudock into a good backup quarterback, they’re going to need him in a film room and working on a playbook. That they have made no effort to sign a fourth quarterback, nor even tried out any others since bringing in Jimmy Clausen, is a promising sign that the things Rudock was drafted for, all things we can’t see as fans, are going as planned. It would be nice if the things we can see, like his arm strength and passing accuracy, were even on a serviceable level, but there’s no point in being picky when there are bigger holes to worry about. Orlovsky still looks like he can hold down the fort, so it’s all about developing Rudock to do the same job, now.