MIKE O'HARA

Lions could shake up the quarterback depth chart

Posted May 17, 2014

The Lions are set with Matthew Stafford as the starting quarterback and Dan Orlovsky as the backup, but a change is possible in the third spot with a different athletic style than the Lions have had in recent seasons.

A change might be coming at the bottom of the Lions’ quarterback depth chart.

The Lions are set with Matthew Stafford as the starting quarterback and Dan Orlovsky as the backup, but a change is possible in the third spot with a different athletic style than the Lions have had in recent seasons.

James FranklinQB James Franklin (Photo: Detroit Lions)

James Franklin of Missouri was signed as a free agent soon after the draft ended when he was not one of the 14 quarterbacks taken by a team. Also in mini-camp on a tryout basis is Jonathan Jennings of Saginaw Valley.

Franklin, 6-2 and 230 pounds, had an unofficial time of 4.94 seconds in his Pro Day workout in March. Despite that pedestrian clocking, he was productive at Missouri with his running ability.

In 2013, Franklin threw for 2,429 yards and 19 touchdowns against 6 interceptions. He ran for 510 yards, a 4.2-yard average per carry and 4 TDs. His best season was 2011 – 2,865 yards passing and 21 TDs; 981 yards rushing, a 4.5-yard average and 15 TDs.

Kellen Moore, who had an outstanding career at Boise State, has been the No. 3 quarterback the last two seasons. He is strictly a pocket passer.

A quarterback who can run adds value to his role as a backup because it helps prepare the defense in practice to face mobile quarterbacks.

However, coach Jim Caldwell cautioned against reading too much into having Franklin in camp

“We’re not necessarily looking for a different mode,” he said. “These two guys (Franklin and Jennings) are certainly a little bit more of a wide-open type of a scheme where their legs are an important part of what they do, but I think you see that all across the board in our league now.

“You have to be able to make plays a number of different ways. Some guys make them in the pocket, some guys outside of the pocket.”

Franklin and Jennings played mostly in the shotgun in college.

“These two guys haven’t spent a whole lot of time underneath center,” Caldwell said. “So they’re learning that part of it. But they both have a good skill level, so we are taking a real good look at them.”