As the Detroit Lions pre-season opener against the Cleveland Browns gets closer, I encourage everyone to keep an eye on the third string quarterback battle against Kellen Moore and James Franklin.
Now, I know what your thinking, neither of those guys are Matthew Stafford and your right, they aren’t Stafford. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pay attention to them. Throughout training camp, both Moore and Franklin have been competing at a high level and since head coach Jim Caldwell, doesn’t know how many quarterbacks he will be keeping, that makes the pre-season even more important for these two.
“Both guys are young and eager.” Coach Caldwell said on the competition between Moore and Franklin. “Both guys have had really outstanding college careers, both played well. Kellen has a little more experience in this league at this point. But both guys are competing hard, smart, and eager, and like I said, they are improving as well.”
I must admit that I am happy to hear that Moore is performing well in camp. After finishing his stellar college career at Boise State with 14,667 passing yards and 142 touchdown passes and ranking among the top quarterbacks in college football history, I always felt Moore got the short end of the stick by going un-drafted.
I know at 6-feet and 200 pounds, many scouts considered him too small to play the position in the NFL, and doubts still remain about his arm strength. Nevertheless, it doesn’t change the fact that Moore is a traditional drop-back passer, who can fit into a pro-style offense and make accurate throws under pressure. Plus, he is a highly intelligent quarterback. I don’t know if Moore will ever see the field for Detroit or any other team but I do believe that if he was given an opportunity, he could surprise some people, which leads me to the Lions next quarterback on the depth chart, James Franklin.
Now, I don’t know about you but I am really watching Franklin very closely. Going into the Browns game, he as listed as the No.4 quarterback on the depth chart. While he may have gone un-drafted in this year’s NFL Draft, it doesn’t change the fact that Franklin had a stellar college career. For those who don’t remember, he was a dual-threat quarterback at Missouri, throwing for 6,962 yards and rushing for 1,729 in his career. He missed four starts last year with a sprained throwing shoulder, but returned to lead the Missouri Tigers to the SEC championship game. Although he went un-drafted, I always thought the Lions were very smart to sign the un-drafted free agent.
At 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, Franklin is already a great athlete, making him a threat in the open field. When he runs the ball, you can always count on him to bring a very physical style, making it hard to take him down in the open field. Then when it comes to throwing the ball, he has a very good arm and above-average accuracy, not to mention a good quick release. If you look back at his film, you will see that he can make long throws down the field but at the same time, has no problem making the tough passes over the middle.
If Franklin plays well on Saturday, it could help him earn more reps next week. Nevertheless, for the time being Moore looks like the favorite for the No. 3 quarterback job, which could be huge if the Lions plan to only keep one of them on the roster.
“Not yet.” Coach Caldwell speaking on how many quarterbacks he is going to keep. “At this point we’re a long way away from really getting to that point. It’s always something that we’re looking at constantly, just in terms of what we’re going to do with our personnel. In advance, if you start making plans this far away, often times you find that you have to recalculate it anyways. They are working hard, the best they can.”
Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
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