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O'HARA'S DRAFT PREVIEW: 5 quarterbacks that could interest Lions

Quarterback isn't the Detroit Lions' biggest immediate need, but it's the most hotly debated issue of this year's draft because the Lions' draft position in the first round and Alabama star Tua Tagovailoa's presence.

It's also the biggest question for general manager Bob Quinn.

Does he draft Tagovailoa with the third pick overall?

Does he trade down with a team that wants to move up for Tagovailoa?

And if there are no acceptable trade offers, does Quinn leave Tagovailoa on the board and draft one of the defensive stars at No. 3?

Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow of LSU – projected to go No. 1 to the Bengals – are the top-rated quarterbacks in this year's draft. It's possible four quarterbacks could be drafted in the first 12 picks because of team needs.

Those needs also could trigger a frantic trade market.

Quinn's decision might not be known until the Lions are on the clock on April 23. Until then, let the debate rage – and keep in mind Quinn's answer when asked at the Combine if he'll look at a quarterback at No.3.

"Yeah ... we'll look at all those guys," Quinn said. "We're drafting at three, so we have to look at everybody.

"We can't just concentrate on one or two positions, so we'll concentrate on all the positions."

View photos of Mike O'Hara's top 5 quarterback draft prospects that could interest the Lions.

Skeptic's beware on whether Quinn is truly considering taking a quarterback at No. 3 with Matthew Stafford returning in good health after missing the last eight games of last season with a back injury

A year ago at the Combine he was asked if he'd consider taking a tight end with the eighth pick.

The answer was "Yes," and he drafted tight end T.J. Hockenson of Iowa at No. 8.

Following is how the Lions stand at quarterback going into the draft, with five prospects and one sleeper who could fit them on some level. Burrow is not rated here because of the likelihood that he will be drafted No. 1 by the Bengals and will be off the board.

Lions' quarterback draft status: It's a question of how high, but the Lions are more likely than not to draft a quarterback for depth and development, and for insurance in case Stafford sustains another injury.

Drafting Tagovailoa cannot be ruled out. If the Lions do not take Tagovailoa, they are likely to draft a quarterback for development at a higher level than the sixth-round picks they used to take Jake Rudock in 2016 and Brad Kaaya in 2017.

Lions' depth chart:

Returning: Stafford, who says he's fully recovered from the back injury that forced him to miss the last eight games last season, and David Blough, who started the final five games as a rookie.

Added: Chase Daniel, veteran backup.

Five prospects and one sleeper who could fit the Lions:

1. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama.

6 foot, 211.

Stats: 3 years, 33 games: 87 TD passes, 11 interceptions, 7,442 yards.

Breakdown: A talented winner and leader but with an injury history that cannot be overlooked. His most serious injury was to his hip in Game 9 of 2019 that ended his season. Health is an obvious concern. Agile in the pocket, but not really a runner, and an accurate thrower with a 69-percent completion rate.

Where he could fit Lions: Assuming he's healthy, backup insurance in 2020 and development as a future starter.

2. Justin Herbert, Oregon.

6-6, 236. 4.68 Combine 40.

Stats: 4 years, 44 games, 42 starts. First Oregon freshman to start (7 games) since 1983. Career: 95 TD passes, 23 interceptions, career-high 67 percent completion rate in 2019.

Background: Built like a prototype QB. Leadership has been questioned. Not the fiery type. Played well at the Senior Bowl, where the Lions' staff coached the North team and got a good look at Herbert's performance for the South. Herbert was the game's MVP and was named "Practice player of the week."

Where he could fit Lions: Only after a trade-down for extra picks, he'd be backup insurance and development as a future starter.

3. Jordan Love, Utah State.

6-4, 224. 4.74 Combine 40.

Stats: 3 seasons, 60 TD passes, 29 interceptions. A 2016 redshirt.

Breakdown: Raised his draft stock with a strong Combine performance, which he needed badly. He did not impress at the Senior Bowl. After 32 TDs and 6 interceptions in 2018 he dropped to a 20-17 ratio in 2019 in a bad offensive season overall for Utah State.

Where he could fit Lions: Another lower first-round possibility, if the Lions have extra picks, for development and depth. The ability is there.

4. Jacob Eason, Washington.

6-6, 231. 4.89 Combine 40.

Stats: One-year starter at Washington after transfer from Georgia. 2019: 13 starts, 23 TD passes, 8 interceptions. For Georgia in 2016: 16 TD passes, 8 interceptions.

Breakdown: Produced as a freshman starter at Georgia but lost his starting job to Jake Fromm because of an injury sustained in the opening game of 2017.

Where he could fit Lions: Day 2 as a pocket passer with a strong arm.

5. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma.

6-1, 222. 4.59 Combine 40.

Stats: 3 years at Alabama, one season at Oklahoma (2019). 49 TD passes, 12 interceptions for Alabama, 32 TDs and 8 interceptions at Oklahoma.

Background: High-quality character showed when he didn't complain or sulk when replaced by Tagovailoa. Took his game to Oklahoma and threw for a career-high 3,861 yards and ran for another 1,298 and 20 TDs.

Where he could fit Lions: Athletic prospect for development, with no rush to play immediately.

Sleeper: Steven Montez, Colorado.

6-4, 231. 4.68 Combine 40.

Stats: 4-year starter. 9,492 yards, 63 career TDs, 33 interceptions.

Background: Versatile high school athlete from El Paso, where he played basketball and football, and was a sprinter and high jumper in track and field.

Where he could fit Lions: Day 3 for development.

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