American Football

Pros, cons to the Lions keeping 2 vs. 3 QBs on the 53-man roster


Syndication: Detroit Free Press
Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

The health of rookie quarterback Hendon Hooker gives the Detroit Lions some interesting options when it comes to roster construction, especially with the new emergency QB rule.

Hendon Hooker’s health is going to be a storyline to follow all year for the Detroit Lions and their fans. The quarterback is currently recovering from an ACL injury suffered last November, and while many are projecting him to be close to full health by the regular season, how quickly he is up to speed and ready to contribute is debatable.

In this week’s SB Nation Reacts survey question, we asked Lions fans if they would prefer for Detroit to keep three quarterbacks on the active (53-man) roster or if another alternative to roster building was a better solution.

The results, unsurprisingly, mostly came down to when people believe Hooker will be healthy—with 84% of fans feeling comfortable with the team rostering three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster at some point during the season.

Keeping just two QBs (Hooker to NFI)

The advantage of placing Hooker on the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list—where all players who are still dealing with a pre-NFL injury land—is that they can allow Hooker all the time he needs to recover while also opening up a roster spot for another player on their active (53-man) roster. The disadvantage is that Hooker would be unable to practice all of training camp and during the regular season, until the Lions decide to add him to the active roster.

Bottom line: Better for Hooker’s health and team roster space, but bad for development.

Keeping three QBs (Goff, Sudfeld, Hooker)

The advantage of keeping Hooker on the active roster from Day 1 is that they can get him on the field at any time they wish, thus helping him with his developmental curve. The downside is that if he is not ready to contribute, they are essentially wasting a spot on the 53-man roster that could be used for another player.

Bottom line: Availability is good for Hooker’s development, but bad for roster construction.

In the end, as we saw in the above poll results, the fans opted for keeping Hooker on an injury list as long as possible, potentially tempering his development, but also creating more options to add another immediate contributor.

For a team that appears to be making a run at a division title, this does seem like the most realistic option. The Lions are very invested in Hooker’s development—the draft pick investment alone supports that—but that likely won’t take priority over adding depth to the overall roster, especially early in the season. At the same time, getting Hooker valuable playing time certainly has to be on the team’s mind and they will want to test his potential this season.

Finding the balance of team roster spot versus quarterback development will be an interesting debate for Lions’ decision-makers.

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