- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Detroit Lions have their starting quarterback in Matthew Stafford and a former starter as a backup in Dan Orlovsky. Kellen Moore, now entering his third season with the Lions, has not taken a snap and is still on the roster.
That, though, should not preclude Detroit from using one of its draft picks -- or a priority free-agent deal if it came to that -- on a quarterback next week during the NFL draft. The position will not be of the highest priority to the Lions as there are true needs on the roster, but this is a new coaching staff.
And with that staff will likely come a quarterback they will want to groom on their own to eventually at least replace Orlovsky down the road. This should bring Detroit to the third day of the draft -- unless something unforeseen happens and one of the top-tier quarterbacks falls to them in the second round -- and to a list of players who have one flaw or another. But most of those flaws can be fixed.
"We have to wait and see where some of these quarterbacks go," ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said earlier this month. "Connor Shaw, some think fourth round, some think seventh round. Kenny Guiton was a backup to Braxton Miller at Ohio State but played well when Miller was out. He could be a late-rounder or priority free agent.
"We have to see how far Aaron Murray from Georgia drops. I thought he'd be a third-round pick. Of course, he had the injury; maybe he goes fourth-to-sixth round now. Those are some of the guys that could be intriguing guys that at least have that ability."
Murray is one name that stands out, mostly because his pedigree is similar to Stafford's. Murray, who is shorter and doesn't have the arm strength Stafford possesses, is ahead of Stafford in many categories in the Georgia record books, including passer efficiency rating, career passing yards and completions, and touchdown passes in a season and a career.
Of course, Murray played four years at Georgia, whereas Stafford only had three.
But Murray's injury, a torn left ACL, will likely drop him in the draft. This is good for Detroit.
"Two things with Murray are size, which is a big factor. You could say, well, Drew Brees had similar size, went first pick in the second round and look what happened," Kiper said. "The injury, the lack of ideal size, doesn't have a great arm but I think his arm is more than good enough.
"I think he's going to be a great fourth-round pick, maybe fifth-round pick that one time looked like a second or third."
That's value -- and in drafting a quarterback that could be a strong backup and maybe even a starter in the future, value is what the Lions are looking for.
Other than Murray, who has met with the Lions, there are other potential value options depending on when Detroit opts to take a quarterback. Kiper mentioned two in the later rounds in Shaw and Guiton.
Clemson's Tajh Boyd is a player Kiper mentioned that once had a much higher value than he currently possesses. There's also Tom Savage from Pittsburgh, who has been a late riser in the draft and likely would be gone before Detroit considered taking a quarterback, but if he is around in the late third round, it could be worth trying to trade up to nab him.
Then there's the other SEC quarterback coming off an injury, Zach Mettenberger, who is also the other quarterback the Lions have met with. Like many other quarterbacks in this draft, there is not a consensus opinion on him.
"Logan Thomas is the physical freak of the quarterbacks. Looked like a top pick three years ago and has really regressed since then but has all the talent in the world. He can be a second-round pick," Kiper said. "Zach Mettenberger, one of the best arms of any quarterback, if not the best arm, out of LSU coming off the injury.
"Limited mobility but some people like him. Some don't."
When it comes to quarterbacks and who is available for the Lions, that's the key to the entire draft.