Martin Mayhew used his first draft pick on a quarterback, taking Matthew Stafford with the No. 1 overall selection in the 2009 draft. Through the rest of his time with the Detroit Lions, Mayhew passed on taking another quarterback every time.
Instead, the Lions relied on veteran backups Drew Stanton, Shaun Hill and then Dan Orlovsky to handle the No. 2 role. The Lions signed Kellen Moore as an undrafted free agent and kept him on the roster for three seasons.
In other words, Stafford was never pushed for the starting role once he had it and the Lions didn’t really develop a potential starter behind him. Stafford has been durable the past five seasons but with new general manager Bob Quinn in place, there’s a chance the Lions will take a quarterback at some point during the draft to develop behind Stafford.
The Patriots did that intermittently throughout Quinn’s tenure with New England, taking Jimmy Garoppolo last season, Ryan Mallett in 2011, Zac Robinson in 2010, Kevin O’Connell in 2008, Matt Cassel in 2005 and Rohan Davey in 2002. And the Patriots made those moves knowing they had an entrenched starter in Tom Brady.
So the history is there to make a move in the middle rounds on a developmental quarterback. With that in mind, here are some players to pay attention to at the combine.
Christian Hackenberg, Penn State (6-foot-4, 228 pounds): Hackenberg is a fascinating case. As a freshman under Bill O’Brien, he looked like a potential first-round pick. Then O’Brien returned to the NFL and Hackenberg struggled under James Franklin and behind a questionable Penn State offensive line. In three years, he became Penn State’s all-time leading passer, ahead of Kerry Collins. He completed 693 of 1,235 passes for 8,457 yards and 48 touchdowns during his career. If he shows well, he could move back up draft boards and out of consideration. If the Lions want to take a chance on a quarterback to develop with strong upside, Hackenberg could be the guy if he somehow makes it to the end of Day 2 or the start of Day 3. The questions would be whether the Lions would want to invest in a quarterback there and if he’d still be around.
Kevin Hogan, Stanford (6-3, 217): He’d be enticing as a third-day pickup for Detroit. He has good size and comes out of a pro-style system at Stanford, where he followed Andrew Luck. His accuracy is strong, as he's a career 65.9 percent passer (727-for-1,103). He threw for 9,385 yards in his career with 75 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. He can also run, gaining 1,249 yards.
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State (6-2, 226): Prescott could be intriguing if he is available on the third day of the draft. He completed 734 of 1,169 passes for 9,376 yards, 70 touchdowns and 23 interceptions in his career. But his running ability -- 2,521 career rushing yards with 41 touchdowns -- could make him more intriguing.
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana (6-6, 234): Another developmental-type with great size. He can get the ball downfield and is a smart quarterback. Accuracy (60.3 percent career passer) is an issue, as is potential mobility since he averaged about one yard per rush in his career. Was good about not taking sacks, having only 37 in his career. Another potential third-day player.