General manager Bob Quinn spoke with reporters down at the Combine on a number of Lions topics, including the state of the quarterback position in Detroit.
Although no talks have occurred yet, extending starter Matthew Stafford is on Quinn's agenda.
"It's a priority," Quinn said. "But it takes two sides to get a deal. I think that's something we'll definitely talk about. I'm not making any promises one way or another, but I've always said since I've gotten here that I think Matthew is a good quarterback and I'd like to have him here long-term and that hasn't changed."
While Stafford is locked in as the starter for the 2017 season and potentially beyond, he will have a new backup. Second-year quarterback Jake Rudock will get every opportunity to earn the job.
"Jake had a good rookie year," Quinn said. "He had a really good preseason. We made the decision to kind of give him every shot to be the No. 2 quarterback. In the offseason program, the OTAs, and hopefully the training camp, he's going to get every opportunity to earn that job."
In addition to a new backup, Stafford could be playing behind an offensive line with different starters, as both rigt tackle Riley Reiff and right guard Larry Warford are set to become free agents. Quinn has had discussions with both Reiff and Warford, but there's nothing to announce at this time.
No matter what happens with the right side of the line, the Lions will have center Travis Swanson back in the mix. Swanson missed the final five games of the season with a concussion, but has cleared the protocol.
"Yep, he's cleared," Quinn confirmed. "He's ready to go. He's full participation in the offseason program."
View photos of the Lions' personnel department at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
RUNNING BACK CLASS STANDS OUT
When asked where this draft class was deepest, Quinn said running back, defensive line, wide receiver and in the secondary.
The running back class, in particular, has gotten a lot of attention. Led by LSU's Leonard Fournette and FSU's Dalvin Cook, this year's group of running backs could offer top talent and depth all three days of the draft. It could be a position of interest for the Lions, who ranked 30th in rushing offense last season.
"I think what separates me is I can do it all," Cook said Thursday in his media session with reporters. "I can stay on the field all three downs. I'm just a do-it-all back and I feel like I am the best back in this class."
Cook and Fournette are most likely first-round prospects, but there is talent to be had in later rounds as well. Toledo running back Kareem Hunt's ability to hang onto the football could make a big impression on NFL scouts.
"Honestly, I just take care of the ball," Hunt said. "I don't like having anything taken from me. I'm not going to let anybody take the ball from me, or anything important to me.
"The football's important to me. You can't gain the yards you want without the ball. If I fumble on first down, that's two other downs where I could have gotten the ball, and I'm missing out on an opportunity."
The Lions could also look outside of the Combine for help at running back as well. Quinn told reporters he isn't ruling out Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who wasn't invited to the Combine for off-the-field issues.
"We're going to leave the door open on Joe," Quinn said. "We come here to see the best college football players. So there's 330, 340-some odd players here. Him not being here, because of those issues, personally I don't think that's real fair because we have a lot of investigation that we want to do on him and to get him in one spot for all the teams would have been great."
Tori Petry caught up with several analysts at the Combine to get their opinion on the Lions' roster ahead of free agency and the draft. Watch the interviews below:
As NFL prospects go through drills and the interview process at the Combine, let's take a look back at how some of our current Lions fared during their Combine experiences with these throwbacks:
OTHER NOTEWORTHY ITEMS:
- As it currently stands, the Lions will have eight picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. Click here for the full draft order.
- See what the NFC North general managers and head coaches had to say down at the Combine.
- Tackle Garett Bolles' path to the Combine has been a long and complicated one. Read how he turned his life around to get where he is today.
- Find out how the running backs fared in the Combine workouts.
- With 14 players in attendance, the Michigan Wolverines are well-represented at the Combine.