The Detroit Lions have made it clear quarterback is a position they are keeping their eye on this offseason. Incumbent starter Jared Goff enjoyed a Pro Bowl season and led one of the NFL’s best offenses in 2022. However, the Lions do not currently have a quarterback under contract behind Goff. Recent comments by general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell indicate Detroit is looking at this year’s draft to find Goff’s new backup and his potential replacement.
“We believe we can win with Jared Goff,” Campbell said in a recent interview. “We also know he is not going to be here for the next 10 years. Certainly, our eyes are on potentially a quarterback. The question is where do you acquire that at?”
Holmes also noted Detroit’s need to address the backup quarterback position early in the offseason.
“I feel like last year we kind of left training camp kind of sliding into home plate trying to fill that backup quarterback role,” Holmes said. “So, that is something that we’re gonna need to address, whether it’s here in free agency or upcoming in the draft.”
Quarterbacks take the field tomorrow, March 4, for combine drills. There are 15 quarterbacks attending the combine. The Lions will do their due diligence in assessing this year’s class. Performances during drills will showcase these quarterbacks’ abilities, but interviews and running through schemes on a whiteboard are even more important.
Here are some of the quarterbacks the Detroit Lions should pay close attention to during the scouting combine.
The Detroit Lions could take a swing on the first-round quarterbacks
Bryce Young, Alabama
Alabama quarterback Bryce Young is not throwing during this year’s combine. The big key for Young is how he measures in. He is undersized, and everyone knows it. The question is just how undersized is he.
Young is the favorite to be the first quarterback off the board in this year’s draft, and it is highly unlikely the Lions have a chance of selecting him without trading up.
C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
Depending on who you ask, C.J. Stroud can be the first quarterback taken in this year’s draft or he could be the fourth. Stroud is the most accurate quarterback in this year’s class from inside the pocket. He makes his way through his progressions and attacks the middle of the field. He does not have elite arm talent, but he has the ability to make most of the throws teams could ask of him. He also throws a great deep ball.
Stroud has all the athletic tools teams look for in a modern quarterback. He offers the mobility to escape the pocket and throw on the run. However, he did not always display that mobility during his time at Ohio State. His decision-making, when forced to improvise and scramble, was inconsistent. However, his game against Georgia showed the best that can come when Stroud was forced to improvise and make plays under pressure.
During the combine drills, Stroud will be able to showcase his athletic gifts. Teams know he can throw an accurate ball from inside the pocket, but he will have the chance to show his accuracy on the move. During whiteboard sessions, his pre-snap processing will be on display as well.
Will Levis, Kentucky
Will Levis possesses all the physical tools teams covet in a modern NFL quarterback. He has a rocket arm. At 6-3 and 232 pounds, he offers good size. He has good functional mobility and toughness as well. However, Levis did not enjoy the best 2022 season at Kentucky. Poor offensive line play and a lack of great weapons are major factors in Levis’ underwhelming performance.
Levis has a habit of locking onto his first read. Inconsistent footwork and ball placement issues lead to some accuracy problems for Levis.
His arm talent will be on full display during the combine drills. He is going to launch some of the longest deep balls, but there is no if his footwork is less than sound, he could miss some of his targets. Still, his raw physical tools will entice teams into placing him high on the draft board.
Anthony Richardson, Florida
Anthony Richardson is the quarterback you imagine building in Madden. He is 6-4 with a cannon for an arm. He has speed, mobility and power. Upon entering the NFL he will immediately be one of the best runners from the quarterback position. However, Richardson lacks experience. He only spent one season as the full-time starter at Florida. That inexperience shows on tape, but his physical tools and gradual improvement were on full display as well.
Richardson has the highest ceiling of all the quarterbacks in this year’s class, but he also has one of the lowest floors. He is a boom-or-bust prospect. Richardson can throw an accurate ball, even able to make pinpoint throws. However, he is inconsistent, missing plenty of throws as well. He needs to work on becoming consistent with the fundamentals of the position.
Richardson’s arm talent will wow scouts during quarterback drills. But where teams are going to be most interested is during whiteboard sessions. The 21-year-old showed an improved ability to read defenses later in the season, and showing he is making strides in processing defenses is important to building his draft stock.
More than any first-round talent in this year’s quarterback class, Richardson would benefit from sitting for a year. The Detroit Lions could provide that with Goff as a reliable starter under contract for the next two seasons. If he hits, he could be something very special.
Quarterbacks available outside the first round
Tanner McKee, Stanford
If this were 15 years ago, Tanner McKee would be viewed as a first-round prospect. The Stanford product is a traditional pocket passer with good size at 6-6. Think Joe Flacco when considering what McKee can bring to the NFL level. He throws with good timing and accuracy, and his arm is good enough to make most throws on the field.
Mckee offers very little in terms of mobility, and his pocket presence is lacking. However, he makes very good reads and does not make many turnover-worthy plays.
Mckee will have a chance to stand out during whiteboard sessions. He is not going to stand out during the combine drills next to Levis and Richardson, but he can show his strengths at reading defenses. Is he ultimately a long-term starter? That is yet to be seen, but he should be a reliable backup at the very least.
Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
After suffering an ACL tear in the 2022 season, Hendon Hooker will not throw during combine drills. The 25-year-old has plenty of experience, but Tennessee’s offense was far from an NFL style playbook.
Hooker is mobile and has good arm talent.He would have benefitted from being able to show off his arm during the combine. However, he will have the chance to prove he can run an NFL offense. Tennessee’s playbook was limited, and Hooker needs to show he can take on more responsibility reading defenses and understanding more complicated schemes.
Other quarterbacks the Detroit Lions should monitor at the combine
Stetson Bennett, Georgia
Stetson Bennett is undersized and lacks any traits that will turn heads. However, the 25-year-old proved he could be a game manager that makes smart decisions with the football. He will not be anything more than a backup in his career, but the Lions do not have one of those right now.
Max Duggan, TCU
Max Duggan can extend plays with his feet and pick up tough yards on scrambles. He stares down his first read and does not often throw with leverage. His mobility and improvisational abilities could serve him well at the next level.
Jaren Hall, BYU
Jaren Hall lacks the arm talent of the top quarterbacks in this year’s class. He places balls well, hitting receivers in stride, and he does a good job working through his progressions. He struggles to navigate the pocket and fit the ball through tight windows. He is willing to take check-downs and is smart with the ball.
Aidan O’Connell, Purdue
Decision-making is not Aidan O’Connell’s strength. The Purdue product throws with confidence, but it is not always warranted. He throws into coverage. He has enough arm talent to make deep throws with ease, and he can fit the ball through tight windows at times. His biggest issue is thinking he can make every throw.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA
Dorian Thompson-Robinson has shown the ability to attack the intermediate levels of the field. He has some improvisational chops and he throws an accurate ball. He needs to work on throwing with anticipation, and he can lose track of zone defenders. He does not throw the best deep ball either. His mobility is a plus and could help relieve other areas of weakness.
Clayton Tune, Houston
Clayton Tune is an experienced quarterback with good but not great arm strength. He can struggle on some deep passes. He struggles against pressure, and his mechanics are inconsistent. He throws with accuracy and possesses a quick release. He could become an average backup one day, but not much more.
(Featured Image Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports)