The NFL combine is less than two weeks away, and days after that, the free-agency period will begin with the start of the new league year. So it’s time for the Detroit Lions -- and every other team in the NFL -- to begin to take stock of what they have and where they can upgrade and improve.
With that in mind, we’ll do that as well with every position on the Lions' roster leading into next week’s combine. Just a reminder: Things can change incredibly quickly over the next few weeks as Detroit decides which players to re-sign and let go.
So we’ll start with the most stable non-specialist position on the Lions roster: Quarterback.
Free agents: Dan Orlovsky
What are the chances the Lions bring back their own free agents here: None. Orlovsky has already said publicly the franchise is moving on from him. Detroit will have no players from its winless 2008 team on the roster for the first time since that year.
What do the Lions need between free agency and the draft: Not a ton. Detroit will likely want to bring in some competition for the No. 2 spot for Rudock, but no one who will challenge Stafford. That likely means a draft pick/undrafted rookie free agent or a low-end free agent quarterback.
Two free agents to look at: Detroit is not expected to add a quarterback during free agency, but here are two to consider if they decide to bring in a veteran.
Kellen Moore: Yes, this name will be extremely familiar to Lions fans, but he has familiarity with the coaching staff and the offense. He likely will be able to latch on somewhere else, but if Detroit wanted to add a free-agent quarterback who understands his role and could replace what Orlovsky brought in preparation during the week, Moore would be close to perfect.
Jimmy Clausen: The former Notre Dame quarterback worked out for Detroit just prior to training camp last year and then did not find a team in 2016. But if the Lions want a quarterback to give some competition to Rudock, Clausen could be an intriguing name. He has known offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter for years -- his brother Rick Clausen played with Cooter at Tennessee -- and one of his closest friends is Lions wide receiver Golden Tate. Plus, he played with Theo Riddick in college, so there is a rapport already. Still a long shot, though.
Three rookies who could get considered:
C.J. Beathard, Iowa: He’s got a combine invite. If the Lions somehow drafted or signed Beathard, it could create an interesting dynamic considering Iowa moved on from Rudock to play Beathard heading into the 2015 season. That sent Rudock to Michigan and, eventually, the Lions. At 6-foot-3, 219 pounds he has good size for a quarterback. He played in 41 games at Iowa, completing 454 of 782 passes for 5,562 yards, 40 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. Completing only 58 percent of his passes should be a concern, and he had only one season over 60 percent completions. He’s likely a late-round pick, which puts him in potential range for the Lions.
Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee: At 6-foot-3, 216 pounds, he has good size. An aerospace engineering major, he has some dual-threat capability as well, rushing for 2,160 yards in his four years with the Volunteers. He played in 37 games, completing 614 of 999 passes for 7,138 yards, 53 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. Like Beathard, he’d be a developmental prospect but a player who should be around in the late rounds or as a priority free agent. If he works out well at the combine, though, he could end up out of Detroit’s range.
Cooper Rush, Central Michigan: His arm strength will be a question as will his physical makeup, even though he’s 6-foot-3, 230 pounds. He graduated last year with a degree in actuarial science -- essentially, he studied how to assess risk -- and is well-known for how he can dissect defenses, something he displayed in this Sports Illustrated story. He should interview extremely well at the combine. He completed 1,022 of 1,648 career passes (62 percent) for 12,894 yards with 90 touchdowns and 55 interceptions. The Lions could get a really good evaluation of him as well from his college coach, former Lions special-teams coach John Bonamego. He’s likely going to be an undrafted free agent and could be a strong fit as a deep developmental player.