MOBILE – The Detroit Lions could be in the market for a quarterback this offseason after the team agreed to seek a trade partner for veteran Matthew Stafford.
The team could trade for a veteran, sign a veteran in free agency, or look to the NFL Draft to fill the void.
If the Lions do look to the draft to add a youngster they can develop, they'll have plenty of options. Detroit has the No. 7 overall pick. The top tier of draft prospects include Clemson's Trevor Lawrence (the expected No. 1 overall pick), BYU's Zach Wilson, Ohio State's Justin Fields and North Dakota State's Trey Lance. One of those players could certainly be available at No. 7.
If the Lions opt to wait until after the No. 7 pick, with maybe draft capital they get from any potential Stafford trade, or the second day of the draft, the next wave of quarterback prospects include: Mac Jones (Alabama), Kyle Trask (Florida), Jamie Newman (Georgia), Kellen Mond (Texas A&M), Sam Ehlinger (Texas), Ian Book (Notre Dame) and Feleipe Franks (Arkansas).
What's been great about the Senior Bowl this week is every one of those players in that second group are down here in Mobile competing. And for teams potentially looking for quarterbacks, that's been a terrific opportunity to get some great on-field evaluation, especially with there being no team visits for prospects this year and no NFL Combine. The evaluations this week have been critical.
"No visits and no Combine makes every little thing more important. This is more important," Ehlinger said this week. "The pro day is (now) more important. It's about taking every rep one at a time and just going out there and competing."
All eyes have been on Jones this week, and for good reason. The Heisman Trophy finalist threw for 4,500 yards with 41 touchdowns and just four interceptions leading Alabama to the National Championship. Jones has been poised and accurate this week. The Lions are expected to meet with him, along with several other of the quarterbacks here this week.
Newman has turned some heads the first couple days with his arm strength and accuracy. This week is vitally important for him after he opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19.
There's really a quarterback for every system here in Mobile -- Pocket passers, mobile quarterbacks and guys who have a little combination of both, like Book.
"There's a really good group of quarterbacks out here," Book said. "It's fun to compete with all of them. I just want to show that I can lead this offense. At the end of the day, my job is to lead the offense down there and score points and that's what I want to do.
"I want to do that all week and get better every day. It's a good, friendly competition. These guys want to work. We've been studying. They push me and I push them. At the end of the day it's a competition and every time I'm in, go score points."
Mond is a mobile quarterback with a good arm, but he has to show this week he can be more accurate and a good decision maker.
"My main thing is coming out here and showing my consistency," Mond said. "One in the intermediate game, but also the deep ball. Some of that is with my feet working faster, so that's kind of been the main thing I'm working on since the season ended to now, just building that awareness and working on it.
"Being surrounded by a lot of good guys (this week), just trying to come out here and make plays and show my worth."
The Senior Bowl is unique in that both the American and National teams are coached by NFL staffs. This year it's the Dolphins and Panthers coaching staffs. The Lions coached one of the teams last year.
It's the first exposure to an NFL system for a lot of these quarterbacks, and as Ehlinger pointed out, it can be eye opening at times for these young signal callers.
"I wouldn't say (this week) is about proving anything, I would say it's more about learning an NFL system," Ehlinger said. "You know, I took two snaps under center in college. Just getting comfortable in an NFL offense and learning from an NFL staff is really what I want to do."
This has been a good week so far for the quarterbacks here at the Senior Bowl, and a good week for those teams who could be players in the quarterback market this offseason.