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Detroit Lions impressed by Nate Sudfeld, confident in quarterback depth

The Detroit Lions have been impressed by backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld, and no longer appear interested in adding to their QB depth, despite previous interest in Teddy Bridgewater.

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

All offseason, Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes and coach Dan Campbell insisted they needed to add more competition to the quarterback room. So when they opted to re-sign Nate Sudfeld as the team’s primary backup behind Jared Goff, there was some warranted skepticism. Yes, they ended up drafting Hendon Hooker in the third round, but given that the team sees 2023 as a redshirt year for the rookie, he does little to improve the room this year.

After signing Sudfeld, Holmes maintained that the backup quarterback was added competition, and he was one of just three quarterbacks they were targeting in free agency.

Sudfeld just completed his first offseason program with the Lions, and the reviews seem to support Holmes’ decision to stick with last year’s backup. When asked who has improved the most from last season, Campbell brought up Sudfeld. And quarterbacks coach Mark Brunell gave him a glowing assessment after the end of minicamp.

“He has gotten better as the spring has gone on,” Brunell said. “He has made some very good throws, very good decisions with the ball. And that’s the thing I’ve been most pleased with Nate, is just with the growth even in this offseason. He’s a smart kid, he’s a hard worker, he knows our system and he’s done very well for us.”

In his career, Sudfeld has yet to start an NFL game. In fact, since entering the league in 2016, he’s only made six game appearances and thrown 37 regular season passes. But last year, he made an impression with Detroit for two reasons. For one, he was able to grasp the offense quickly despite being thrown into a challenging position—signing as the team’s backup after training camp.

“It was a tough situation for him,” Brunell said. “He worked really hard when we got him last year. Put a lot of time in. (He) had to put a lot of extra time in, obviously, because he was a play away from having to go in there. But that’s his greatest quality: he’s just an intelligent, intelligent quarterback.”

The other way he impressed his coaching staff was his ability to perform all of the understated duties of a backup quarterback: supporting the starter, helping absorb film in real-time on the sidelines, and just having an extra set of eyes on everything to help in the quarterback room.

“He was perfect,” Brunell said of Sudfeld’s support of Goff. “I talked about the preparation and being ready to go if called upon, the time that he put in. He was great leading up to our games, as far as working with Jared and watching tape together. And then on gameday, he was excellent. And it’s very important for a starter to have a resource on the sidelines, in the meeting room, a backup guy that really just wants to help Jared be the best he can be.”

Combine Goff and Sudfeld with Hooker—a long-term project who could have the highest of ceilings in the future—and the Lions seem quite content with who they currently have in their quarterback room, despite reportedly having a contract offer for Teddy Bridgewater on the table before the draft,

“I love where we’re at,” Brunell said. “I absolutely love where we’re at. I like all the guys. I love my room.”

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