MOBILE – Almost all of the top quarterbacks in this year's NFL Draft are down in Alabama at the Senior Bowl this week. Among them are Malik Willis (Liberty), Sam Howell (North Carolina) and Bailey Zappe (Western Kentucky), who are on the American Team being coached by the Detroit Lions.
Lions general manager Brad Holmes was asked about this year's crop of quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl while stopping to chat with local reporters Monday, and he said the one thing he really likes about the three QBs the Lions are coaching this week is how they've all had to fight through some kind of adversity along the way.
Howell had a terrific sophomore season in 2020, and was being talked about as the No. 1 overall pick in this class around this time a year ago, but he lost all of his skill position weapons to the NFL and saw his yards, touchdowns and completion percentage dip. Will he excel this week with better talent around him?
View photos of the Lions arrival at the 2022 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
Willis had to transfer from Auburn to Liberty for his chance to play. He lit up the stat sheet at Liberty, but the big question with him is how well will he perform this week against better competition?
Zappe, like Willis, didn't play at a Power 5 school, and he'll also have to show teams he can play under center and run and succeed in a more traditional NFL offense, not the up-tempo, pass-happy one he ran at Western Kentucky
"There's so much that goes into the quarterback position, not only what you see on the field, but what you see in the classroom and their development," Holmes said of being around this group of quarterbacks this week.
"They are all different. They all offer different flavors and capabilities. What was kind of cool about all three of those quarterbacks on our roster is they've all battled some kind of adversity and I thought that was kind of cool."
The American and National Team practices begin Tuesday morning and run through Thursday, with the actual Senior Bowl game taking place on Saturday afternoon.
View photos of Detroit Lions players in the Senior Bowl.
Holmes talked after the season about how he was impressed with the resiliency and grit veteran quarterback Jared Goff showed in his first year in Detroit. Goff started to play some really good football the second half of the season after Dan Campbell took over play calling.
Goff is expected to enter the 2022 season as the starter in Detroit, but with backup quarterbacks Tim Boyle and David Blough potentially headed to free agency, the Lions certainly could be in the market to add a young passer in this draft.
That's where getting such a close behind-the-scenes evaluation of Howell, Willis and Zappe this week could be a big advantage for the Lions. Holmes will be on the lookout for which one of these young signal callers answers their question marks the best.