2010 Detroit Lions 53-Man Roster: Willie Young Over Drew Stanton?

John Farrier@GriffWings UnitedCorrespondent IAugust 19, 2010

Detroit Lions quarterback Drew Stanton at training camp on the morning of Wednesay, August 4, 2010.
Detroit Lions quarterback Drew Stanton at training camp on the morning of Wednesay, August 4, 2010.

On the afternoon of Thursday, August 19, 2010, Bleacher Report Detroit Lions Featured Columnist and friend, Ali Hammoud, posed an interesting scenario in his recent article, “NFL Preseason 2010: An Early Look at the Detroit Lions Offense,” when he offered this:

“The Lions could decide to go with two quarterbacks because they might need the roster spot to keep an extra running back or wide receiver.  If that happens, Stanton will not make the 53 man roster.”


The Detroit Lions have customarily divided the allocation of its players evenly among offense (25), defense (25), and special teams (3).

Let’s just suppose for a moment that we’re a couple weeks forward, and Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew, head coach Jim Schwartz, and team president Tom Lewand are discussing the merits of playing the 2010 season with only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster.

Does it benefit the team more to carry only starting quarterback Matthew Stafford and backup quarterback Shaun Hill in light of the current performances of both Stafford and Hill, devoting the traditional third quarterback slot to a player who could hold far more developmental value than quarterback Drew Stanton might provide, both in the short- and long term?

Shoot, the Lions have had some unusually large quarterbacks as of late, so why not just slot Dan Gronkowski for extra duty?  RoboGronko!!!  The former high school quarterback would be one big mother trucker hauling a mean payload.  I think it’s safe to say Dan wouldn’t have any trouble at all seeing over the Detroit Lions offensive line.

So who is a player who might be on the fringe, who if placed on the practice squad might become a Tuna target or something, that would provide the Detroit Lions with greater long-term upside?

To me, that player would be the rookie from North Carolina State, defensive end Willie Young.

In line after the quarterback position, top defensive ends command the second-highest salaries in the National Football League.  The object is to drive value at every position, and the Detroit Lions would get outstanding value from quality play by defensive ends Cliff Avril, Lawrence Jackson, Turk McBride, and Willie Young.

There is no question that if the 2010 Detroit Lions are going to generate a quality pass rush, it will have to be done almost exclusively by the defensive front four.

If we accept this defensive theory as the premise for “stocking the shelves” in the personnel department, I would be very tempted to enter the 2010 season with only two quarterbacks on the active roster.

In the event Stafford was, God forbid, lost for the season, Stanton could easily be resigned and pick right up where he left off—still behind Shaun Hill.

With the uncertainty looming in future negotiations relative to a new collective bargaining agreement, there’s no guarantee there will be a 2011 season anyway.

If both Stafford and Hill are lost for the season, I would find it hard to believe that the former Spartan would be able to equal their on-field performances.

So why keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster when it comes down to cut down time?

Really, it makes no difference if the Detroit Lions were to continue to allocate that “extra” slot to the offensive side of the ball or to the defensive side of the ball.  The part that matters is the positive effect the personnel decision will have on the long-term success of the Detroit Lions.

From my defensive perspective, if it came down to parting with rookie defensive end Willie Young or keeping Drew Stanton as the third quarterback, I’d be keeping the promising, project pass rusher.

Further, if Drew Stanton was kept in lieu of Willie Young, how much impact would Matthew Stafford have on the future of Stanton’s career compared to the benefit of keeping wild-man Willie Young under the tutelage of Gunther Cunningham and the veteran leadership of three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch?

It strikes me that the Detroit Lions front office might have actually assembled a complete future defensive line who will all be able to grow together as a unit over a number of years going forward.

What, what, what?!  (Think Kyle’s mom from South Park.)

That’s right, Lions fans.  This is getting stranger by the day.

The personnel acquisitions are more than making sense, and I, for one, am loving it.

If the focus is to apply relentless defensive line pressure while playing the run en route to the quarterback, it would seem like the more studs in the defensive line stable the better.

Without question, this topic is merely conjecture at this point, but wouldn’t it be a mild shocker if the Detroit Lions opted to keep a player like Willie Young over Drew Stanton at cut down time?

At this stage of the game, I wouldn’t count anything out from Saint Martin the Kaizen Magician.

So far this offseason and early preseason, the magic show has been outstanding.



The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.