Detroit May Need Depth At Quarterback Come Draft Day

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With Dan Orlovsky Out, Detroit Needs Depth At The Quarterback Position

Welcome to this years draft overview series. In this series I take a look at five possible options at each position that Detroit could end up taking in this years NFL draft. The first position we are looking at is the quarterback position.

Matt Stafford had another great year in the NFL, as he was an early MVP candidate before the finger injury hurt his play and caused him to fall out of the race. Behind him was Dan Orlovsky, who said in a radio interview that the team was looking at Jake Rudock as the backup for the future, so his time in Detroit was done. Dan has a great quarterback mind but his mind couldn’t put up the production. Jake Rudock surprised many with his preseason play and while he wouldn’t make the 53 man roster, he would stay on the practice squad and eventually get called up to the main roster as the season played on. Detroit hasn’t talked to a free agent quarterback as of today, so if they want depth behind Rudock, they will have to look at the draft.

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1. Josh Dobbs (Tennessee)

Dobbs had the best year of his career at Tennessee as he was on his way out. His draft stock was certainly helped with his 2016 performance. In his four years at Tennessee, Dobbs threw for 7,138 yards, completing 61.5% of his passes, along with throwing 53 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. Dobbs can also get the job done with his legs, running for 2,160 yards and 32 touchdowns.

Watching Dobbs play, he knows when pressure is coming near him and can get the ball away quickly to avoid the sack. Like Stafford, he can use his feet to extend plays and escape tough situations. His footwork needs some work though as some of his throws are unbalanced and it affects his accuracy. Dobbs also makes poor decisions, so he might need to learn when to just take the sack instead of throwing it into coverage.

Dobbs is the only quarterback on this list that could compete for the backup position and if Detroit wants a better rookie to compete with Rudock, they will have to take Dobbs in the fourth or fifth round.

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2. Cooper Rush (Central Michigan)

Now if Detroit is looking for a third string quarterback for strict depth purposes, this is where the line starts. Cooper Rush was breaking records at Central Michigan and he did well in his four years, throwing for 12,891 yards on a 62% completion percentage, along with throwing for 90 touchdowns and 55 interceptions.

Rush was healthy at CMU, missing only three games in his career. When it comes to the line of scrimmage, he looks to make adjustments instead of asking the sideline what to do. He is slow in the pocket and he has small hands, which can affect his power and accuracy. His arm strength is questionable as well as some balls are easy pickings for defenders. Rush does do well in leading receivers and his pocket poise is impressive. He can also make a quick move up, left, or right to avoid pressure in the pocket to gain an extra second or two.

Cooper Rush will need some work and is a sixth round pick at best.

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3. Seth Russell (Baylor)

Unlike most candidates on this list, Russell hasn’t had much playing time, missing many games due to multiple injuries. That is Russell’s big problem – staying healthy. He was only able to put up 5,461 yards, with a 56.9% completion percentage, throwing for 60 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He can use his legs if he needs to, getting 1,240 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns.

Russell is athletic and has an arm that is strong and can release the ball quickly. He tends to stick to his first target and follows him with his eyes, asking for defenders to intercept the ball. He doesn’t always step into his throws, which asks for trouble all around. Russell is known for being tough, coming back from a vertebrae and neck injury.

Russell is another sixth round option for Detroit.

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4. Mitch Leidner (Minnesota)

Coming into the 2016 college football season, Leidner was seen as one of the best quarterbacks in this draft class. When all the games were said and done, Leider may be lucky to even get drafted. While his numbers are average, his poor 2016 season hurt his draft stock immensely. Leidner ended with 7,287 yards, a 56.4% completion percentage, throwing 36 touchdowns and 32 interceptions. Like Russell, he can do some work with his feet too, running for 1,495 yards and 33 touchdowns.

Leidner has the size and hands of an NFL quarterback, and knows how to roll out either side with his shoulder squared up. He has a nice touch on deep passes but his intermediate passes were not accurate. Like Russell, he tends to stare down his targets and at times he doesn’t test the safeties when he could get a complete pass. Leidner does get rid of the ball instead of taking the sack, showing he doesn’t want to give the defense anymore of an advantage.

A lot of hype for Leidner has had him start as a first round pick, now he is a seventh rounder.

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5. C.J. Beathard (Iowa)

While Russell lost playing time due to injuries, C.J. Beathard didn’t become the solid starter until his junior year. Beathard only had 5,562 yards, with a 58.1% completion percentage, along with 40 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

Beathard, like Leidner, squares his shoulders when having to roll out. When it comes to footwork, Beathard has it down. Pocket presence on the other hand, needs work as he can’t tell when the pocket is collapsing. He drops back deep in some plays and doesn’t climb up to get closer and feel safer. His arm power is impressive though and he has the screen game tuned well.

Beathard could be taken in the seventh round, but if not Detroit could take him as a undrafted free agent.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @BKnappBlogs, find me on Reddit at /u/sportsguy4life and share your thoughts on the Detroit Lions subreddit.

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About the Author

Brandon Knapp
Brandon Knapp is a senior at Central Michigan University, majoring in Journalism, minoring in Sports Management. He was born and raised in the city of Marysville, MI. He also writes for and covers the Michigan Wolverines Football team (his other love). Brandon also enjoys watching the Detroit Red Wings, Pistons and Tigers.