Detroit Lions Quarterback Breakdown: Complete Evaluation and Analysis

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Detroit Lions Quarterback Breakdown: Complete Evaluation and Analysis
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Detroit Lions Quarterback Breakdown: Complete Evaluation and Analysis

All throughout the spring and summer, the collective argument around cities is the same:

"I can't wait until football season."

If that doesn't get you pumped up for the gridiron, I don't know what will. 

If you'll allow me to play Trent Dilfer for a moment, I present to you my full evaluation and complete analysis of the quarterbacks for your Detroit Lions.


Matthew Stafford

Ht. 6'3", Wt. 232, College: Georgia, Years exp.: 5

2012 statistics: 435-727, 4,967 yards, 6.8 yards avg., 20 TDs, 17 INTs.

Analysis: Okay, so Magic Matt No. 9's statistics from last season aren't that great.

That's to be expected from a team that went 4-12 last season. 

However, Stafford has proven time and time again that he is the man that will lead this team. He's thrown for 10,005 yards the past two seasons.

While many "experts" say the yards are meaningless, Stafford is the best quarterback the Lions have had since Matt Millen took over in 2000. 

In a recent interview I conducted with Lions' radio play-by-play announcer Dan Miller, Miller said, "Stafford makes throws that no human being on the planet can make."

I can assure you his sentiments are echoed throughout the league. 

How many games will Stafford play this season?

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We've all seen what Stafford can do when he's healthy.

When he is able to stay in the pocket and put the mental mistakes behind him, he can zip the ball anywhere on the field to anyone who's open, and, sometimes, anyone who's not open. 

Injuries also played a role in Stafford's poor season last year.

He played the majority of 2012 with an unknown leg (hip?) injury. Yet he still managed to throw for nearly 5,000 yards again for the second year in a row. 

Let me make this clear: Until Stafford makes a few Pro Bowls and wins a playoff game or two, I hesitate to put Stafford among the elite—when compared to Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, and Eli Manning, just to name a few.

I will not hesitate, however, to put him in the "very good with the potential to be elite" category, where he'll join the likes of Tony Romo, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub, again just to name a few.

Evaluation: Assuming Stafford can stay healthy again this season, we should see another dynamic season from the 25-year-old signal caller.

He will have the benefit of Calvin Johnson without the Madden cover jinx. Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles, I assume, will be back and healthy, and Reggie Bush was added to take some of the pressure off of Stafford.

How many games will the Lions win this season?

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Factor in rookie wideout/tight end combo Mike Williams out of Alabama and Brandon Pettigrew, and the offense is primed to be virtually unstoppable.

If all goes according to plan this season, I see a Pro Bowl and—wait for it—playoff victory in the Lions' future. 

Love him or hate him, the key to the Lions' success or failure this season all begins and ends with Matt Stafford.

Depth chart analysis: Starter


Shaun Hill

Ht. 6'3", Wt. 220, College: Maryland, Years exp. 12

2012 statistics: 10-13, 172 yds., 13.2 yards avg., 2 TDs, 0 INTs

Analysis: Hill has been a solid, capable backup for the Lions the past two seasons. So much so that some fans clamor to have him start games over Stafford. 

Hill adds another dimension to the quarterback position for the Lions, as he can beat opponents with his legs as well as his arm.

While the aforementioned Stafford runs as well, Hill is known for being a dual-threat quarterback, and often prefers to run than to pass. 

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Hill reminds me of Drew Stanton with a better, more accurate arm.

When Hill played more than two games for the Lions in 2010, he had some solid numbers to prove why he can serve as a capable backup. He threw for 2,686 yards that season while starting 10 games—throwing for 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

Evaluation: If something should happen to Stafford this season, the Lions are in good hands with Hill patrolling center. The Tennessee gaffe from last season aside, Hill will continue to provide stability and depth to the Lions' quarterback position.

Depth chart analysis: Backup


Kellen Moore

Ht. 6'0", Wt. 197, College: Boise State, Years exp. 2

2012 statistics: No regular season statistics available

Analysis: Kellen Moore played well enough last preseason to earn his way on to the 53-man roster, but like all—if not most third-string quarterbacks—he never saw the field in a regular season game. There have even been grumblings that Moore may have to work extra hard to crack the 53-man roster this season. 

Evaluation: Moore came out of Boise State as the most prolific passer in the NCAA, yet his size and arm strength raise many questions. If he shows enough sizzle in the preseason, look for Moore to make an appearance if Stafford and Hill go down. If not, assuming he makes the team, Moore will be relegated back to holding the clipboard.

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Depth chart analysis: Third-string to practice squad


Alex Carder

Ht. 6'2", Wt. 215, College: Western Michigan, Years exp. Rookie

2012 statistics (at Western Michigan): Candidate for Manning, Unitas Golden Arm, and Davey O'Brien Awards, Senior Bowl candidate, Walter Camp Player of the Year Award candidate (courtesy of

Evaluation: Carder did not become a candidate for all of those accolades by accident. He finished his career in 2012 as the third all-time leader in WMU history with 9,116 yards. Carder has a big arm, but is known as more of a game manager than an all-around quarterback.

His competition level raises a lot of questions, as he struggled against Big Ten teams such as Michigan and Illinois, yet starred against the MAC and FCS opponents. However, Carder is a fast learner, and should have no problems learning the Lions' offensive scheme.

Evaluation: Carder signed with the Lions as an undrafted free agent on April 28th, and has a legitimate shot at making the roster due to the uncertainty surrounding Kellen Moore. It is more likely, however, that Carder begins his NFL career on the practice squad.

Depth Chart analysis: Practice Squad, with the potential to be third-string

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