As the NFL pre-season continues along, there are sure to be surprise performers, as well as performances that don’t live up to expectations. All of these performances lead to the culmination of the final roster.
We’re still three weeks away from the conclusion of the preseason, but the question that follows all 32 teams through the early portion of the return of football is simple: what will my team’s roster look like?
We here at DSN have the same question, therefore we’ll be breaking down each position battle for the Detroit Lions, as well as projecting what the final roster will look like. This will be done in eight separate portions: quarterback, receiving core (including tight ends), running backs, offensive line, defensive line, linebackers, secondary, and special teams.
This publication will feature the battle for roster spots at the quarterback position.
Matthew Stafford, Jake Rudock, Brad KaayaDetroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws a pass during the second quarter against the New York Giants at Ford Field. (Photo: Andrew Weber, USA TODAY Sports)
Make no mistake about it, Matthew Stafford is and will be the starting quarterback for the Lions for years to come (well, as long as he re-signs after this season, but that's a topic for another day). We are discussing nothing more than who will be the backup quarterback here.
After Jake Rudock was selected in the sixth round (with the 191st overall pick) of the 2016 draft, it was clear that there was a plan in place for the former University of Michigan signal-caller. That plan was derailed a tad when Rudock was cut and subsequently added to the practice squad last season. After a strong showing in Sunday's pre-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts (142 passing yards and two touchdowns), it appears that the plan is back on track.
But, this year's draft saw the Lions add another quarterback to the mix: University of Miami product Brad Kaaya.
Detroit selected Kaaya with the 215th overall pick in this year's draft, and it appears that his career progression in on the same track as Rudock's. He was the team's most efficient quarterback on Sunday, completing eight of his 11 pass attempts for 71 yards and a touchdown.
He drew a bit of praise from head coach Jim Caldwell during minicamp this summer, when Caldwell said he “liked what he saw” from the rookie.
The Lions will keep two quarterbacks on the roster. Obviously, Stafford will be the starting quarterback when the season begins. I feel that Rudock is quite comfortably slotted as the backup, with Kaaya spending his first season as a professional on the practice squad, exactly like Rudock did in his first season with the team.
It goes without saying that neither Rudock nor Kaaya are at the same level as Stafford, but if (knock on wood) something were to happen that prevented Stafford from playing, the team will likely feel more comfortable turning to the second-year quarterback in Rudock.