Strong workout, pro-style system helped Jake Rudock find home with Lions

Lions GM Bob Quinn was sold on Jake Rudock as a future NFL quarterback after seeing him in person. Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Bob Quinn was always going to take a quarterback somewhere during the 2016 NFL draft. He said it early on and reiterated it again after the draft. It's something Quinn describes as good football business, drafting a quarterback every year or so.

When pick No. 191 came around in the sixth round, the Detroit Lions had not taken a backup quarterback yet and Quinn decided he was going to make the move. That's when he chose to take Jake Rudock, the quarterback from Michigan, to make him his first-ever quarterback selection.

Rudock was in a cluster of quarterbacks taken quickly after one another, including Arkansas' Brandon Allen and Louisiana Tech's Jeff Driskel. Allen and Driskel had been higher on the boards of most analysts, but Rudock was higher on Detroit's board.

That could be because the Lions knew him better than most. They completed a private workout with him in Ann Arbor and had him in Allen Park for the local pro day last week. And when he was there, they liked what they saw.

"When I sat down with Jake, I really saw a passionate football guy that is very smart, very attentive," Quinn said. "I really think the bottom line is, when we worked him out I really came away impressed about how he threw the ball. The big thing about the evaluation of the quarterback position is it's one of the hardest things for scouts and coaches to evaluate arm strength on film.

"I mean, Matthew Stafford on film, like, you can see he's got a great arm. Some of these college quarterbacks, and we tell our college scouts this, if you're going to put a draftable grade or a make-it level grade on a quarterback, I want you to see the guy live in-game. The arm strength really is very crucial to see live."

When Quinn saw the arm strength live during the workout, it sold him on Rudock's ability to be a future NFL quarterback. That was the final piece for the general manager. He already knew he was smart. His character and off-the-field demeanor were unquestionably positive.

And he had one other benefit, too -- something that might have helped make Rudock draftable in the first place. He knows how to play the position as a pro already because of the offenses he led at Iowa and Michigan.

"College football nowadays, there's a lot of quarterbacks that never go under center," Quinn said. "So, to take a quarterback from a system like that, you really have to teach him how to take the ball from a center, take a drop back, look at the field while moving back.

"It's a big transition for a lot of these guys. So, to answer your question, yes, it does factor in and helped his cause."

Rudock has long believed playing under Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch, the former Jacksonville offensive coordinator, has helped him. He spent last season essentially learning an NFL offense, from the plays the Wolverines ran to the verbiage Michigan used on its play calls. Almost everything he did was based off an NFL system since it came from former NFL coaches. It showed in the East-West Shrine game, too, when his quarterbacks coach, Brady Quinn, said Rudock picked up the playbook faster than the other quarterbacks on the roster. It's what helped him earn the start in that game.

"I was fortunate that I had great coaches throughout my entire career," Rudock said. "I mean, you never know what could have happened or would have happened [had he stayed at Iowa]. But right now, I'm very ecstatic and I'm really proud to be a Lion."

One of Rudock's mantras throughout last season was WWTD -- as in What Would Tom [Brady] Do? It's something Fisch used with his quarterbacks to help to get them to think like NFL quarterbacks. It was something the Michigan quarterbacks often used to joke about, WWTD or "Be Like Tom."

And considering Rudock played at Michigan and was taken in the sixth round with a pick in the 190s, there were almost immediate comparisons to another Michigan quarterback taken in the sixth round with a pick in the 190s.

But both Rudock and Quinn put a stop to that quickly, saying Jake Rudock is no Tom Brady.

"I know there's a little parallel there," Quinn said. "But, I mean, this isn't the same conversation."