Gruden talks late-round QB prospects, options for Lions

Posted May 1, 2014

Jon Gruden advises any team looking for a quarterback late in the draft to look closely at college production.

If there’s one thing former Super Bowl winning head coach and current ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden knows, it’s quarterback play.

Gruden began his annual “Jon Gruden’s QB Camp” in the spring of 2012, where he goes over the NFL development process with prospective quarterback draftees.

Jon GrudenJon Gruden (Photo: AP Images)

Gruden reviews film, diagrams plays and does on-field work with the prospects. It’s a popular pre-draft feature for ESPN, and gives Gruden a unique perspective of that year's quarterback class.

The Detroit Lions haven’t selected a quarterback in the draft since 2009, when they took Matthew Stafford No. 1 overall. However, Lions general manager Martin Mayhew told beat reporters down at the NFL Annual Meetings in March that he could be on the lookout for a developmental quarterback to groom later in the draft.

“A lot of teams have used that backup quarterback position to draft and develop a guy you can eventually trade for a draft choice,” Mayhew said. 

Mayhew made those comments before the signing of veteran Dan Orlovsky, who will serve as Stafford’s backup in 2014, but the team could still draft a quarterback later on as a developmental player and future asset to compete with Kellen Moore for the No. 3 spot in training camp.

In seven seasons as Tampa Bay’s head coach from 2002-08, Gruden drafted three quarterbacks. None of whom were drafted earlier than the third round.

“They used to come to my office and get me in the sixth round because that's when we took quarterbacks in Tampa” Gruden said in a conference call this week. “I like the idea of taking them at the top of the first rounds, to be honest with you. 

“In Green Bay years ago, I remember Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren would take a quarterback in the late rounds. They got Mark Brunell late in the fifth round, we got Ty Detmer in the seventh round, then they got (Matthew) Hasselbeck. They continued to do that.”

Gruden said the No. 1 thing franchises should look for in late-round quarterback prospects is production.

“A productive college quarterback that has the ability to think quickly, that can make all the throws,” he said. “You're looking for a lot of intangibles certainly in the sixth round, a guy that fits your system. You hope with coaching he can improve mentally and physically. There's a couple guys that I think might appeal to the Lions."

So who could fit?

“The kid at San Jose State (David Fales) has some qualities,” Gruden said. “We talked about Tajh Boyd in the mid-round who has the chance to be that kind of guy.”

Fales and Boyd certainly fit the “production” requirement Gruden talked about.

Fales started the last two seasons at San Jose State and is the only San Jose State quarterback with two seasons passing for at least 4,000 yards. Boyd holds the ACC record for most career touchdown passes with 107.

Quarterback isn't a position of need for the Lions in next week's draft, but head coach Jim Caldwell, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter have all had success grooming quarterbacks and could be looking for their next project.