A few months ago, Kellen Moore's career took one step forward. By the start of minicamp, it took two steps back -- possibly off the edge of a cliff.
It started a few months ago. Backup quarterback Shaun Hill left the Lions for the Rams. Moore instantly moved up a spot on the depth chart. He was the backup. He'd see significant time in preseason games. He'd have his first legitimate chance to showcase to other teams what he could do.
The dream scenario lasted a couple of days. Lions GM Martin Mayhew verbally slapped it away.
"We just need a player who can be our backup quarterback -- he can go in and function well for us and help us win a game," Mayhew told reporters after Hill left.
The Lions were desperate enough to sign prodigal son Dan Orlovsky a week later.
Moore still has hope. Detroit just tried to fix the hole in the floorboard with duct tape. Orlovsky still has to earn the No. 2 spot. The competition will likely wage through training camp. Moore will be in the middle of the chaos.
This is Kellen Moore, the undersized quarterback before undersized quarterbacks were cool, the Russell Wilson before Russell Wilson, the guy everyone overlooked in the draft because they neglected one thing: He knew how to win. Nevermind that one of Joey Harrington's primary qualities was that he knew how to win. This was Kellen Moore, the man who helped put Boise State on a national stage, versus Dan Orlovsky, the guy that did this. Or at least it was supposed to be.
When the NFL Draft came around, the Lions desperately tried to draft a quarterback. After they missed out on the late-round run, they signed Missouri's James Franklin as an undrafted free agent. He was one of the about 50 players that participated in the Lions' rookie minicamp last week. Franklin is taller, heavier, more athletic and two years younger than Moore. His primary weakness is the same as Moore's: a lack of arm strength.
The Lions aren't going to keep four quarterbacks. The only way they do is if they stash Franklin on the practice squad for the season. But if the Lions keep Franklin any capacity, Moore is stuck in the middle of a roster jumble. Franklin becomes the Lions' "developmental" quarterback, Orlovsky likely becomes the Lions' backup, and Moore likely becomes a body on a roster, a spot that could be filled by almost anybody. There's no room for that.
If a decision comes down to Moore or Franklin, all the latter has to do is show any sort of arm strength, any sort of accuracy. His measurables will win out.
Moore either makes an unexpected ascension to the Lions' No. 2 quarterback or he's possibly out of a job by the fall. In a little over two years, the Kellen Moore experiment could be over. All those "villainous" talent evaluators might be right. He might not be good enough.
From a logistical standpoint, it's impossible for everybody to beat the odds.
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