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Lions Should Sign Russell as Project Player

The latest injury to Detroit Lions quarterback, Matthew Stafford, is on most of the fans minds a lot these days. What are the Lions going to do if he cannot stay healthy?

The consensus seems to be that the Lions should draft a quarterback in the mid rounds of next year's draft. A quarterback who is not polished, but has the tools to become a decent quarterback in the future. A quarterback the Lions can groom for the future if the future is one without Matthew Stafford.

My personal feelings are that the Lions do not need to waste a draft pick on a project player if one is already waiting to be picked up. Though most NFL fans would laugh the idea off, I believe that ex-Oakland Raider, JaMarcus Russell, would be that player.

Look at the facts. Russell has one of the strongest arms in the NFL, if not the strongest arm.He is a large man with a strong running ability, so he would be mobile in the pocket as well as difficult to bring down for a sack. His biggest flaws are accuracy and not reading a defense well. But are those not the same attributes you would get in a quarterback you draft after the 5th round next year? If the Lions want a project quarterback to groom for the future if Stafford cannot stay healthy, then Russell definitely fits the bill, so long as it is understood that he would not be looking to play this year and likely not next year, even if Stafford gets hurt.

Accuracy can be taught to a point. I used to be one of those who did not believe that, but then Stafford showed me different. Last year, Stafford was very inaccurate. Because of that, I had strong doubts that he could ever be a star quarterback in the NFL. But he stayed in Detroit in the off season and worked on his accuracy. It showed! In the preseason this year, he was very accurate. After he came back from the injury he was rusty but when he shook off that rust, he began to look very accurate again. Matthew Stafford's improved accuracy proved to me that it can indeed be taught.

Reading a defense can definitely be taught. The more reps and practice a player gets in, the more comfortable he will be. The more comfortable a quarterback is, the easier it is for him to read what is happening around him. With effort, work and time, Russell could indeed learn to read a defense.

So rather than waste a draft pick on a guy that you will need to work with to groom into a decent quarterback, why not just pick up a player who if you groom him right, has the tools to be a very good quarterback?

Either way, it is nothing more than a gamble. There is no certainty that either Russell or a rookie you draft late would ever turn into anything. But Russell must have something worth working on if he was drafted so highly. Would you rather take a chance on a player who was drafted 1st over all three years ago, or a QB who nobody believes is worth more than a 5th round chance this year? By taking a flier on Russell, the Lions not only fill that need to find a QB who would be a good project, but they also keep the draft pick available for another position they need to fill.

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