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Lions draft preview: QB backups appear set

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Marcus Mariota

This is the 10th in a series of Lions position previews for the NFL draft. Today: Quarterbacks, kickers and punters.

After the 2014 draft, general manager Martin Mayhew said there were a few quarterbacks the Lions considered drafting that went off the board right before Detroit was on the clock.

At the time, a backup quarterback seemed like a top need with Dan Orlovsky having limited good experience and Kellen Moore having hardly any at all.

Fast forward to this offseason, and it appears the Lions are content with the duo of signal callers backing up Matthew Stafford. So, looking ahead to next week's draft, it'd be hard to see the Lions taking a quarterback, unless a player they like falls to a point where he'd be a great value.

And with the NFL Network's Mike Mayock, among other analysts, calling this a poor class of quarterbacks, it would appear the Lions planned ahead by securing Stafford's backups. Behind the top two quarterbacks, Florida State's Jameis Winston and Oregon's Marcus Mariota, none of the other prospects have established themselves as reliable to NFL scouts.

In early March, the Lions signed Orlovsky to a one-year, $1.05 million deal. A few days later, they signed Moore to a two-year, $1.825 million deal. Neither is an especially big contract, but both were big enough to indicate the Lions expect to keep both quarterbacks on the roster in 2015.

Stafford said this week he was "fired up" to have his two backups return.

"They're with me every second of the day when I'm here," Stafford said. "They help me out quite a bit. It's always great to just have guys that have your back, number one, and, number two, are smart guys. Both of them may not get to play as much as they'd like, I'm sure, but do a great job of helping me be the best that I can be."

* Go through the gallery above or go here for Josh Katzenstein's top five quarterbacks in the NFL draft.

What about the specialists?

After the Lions struggled to find any consistency in the kicking game last year, they locked up Matt Prater with a three-year, $9 million deal, hoping to avoid going through the process of drafting someone this year.

Even though the punter Sam Martin has had some struggles in big moments his first two years, the Lions trust him moving forward. And with long snapper Don Muhlbach returning for a 12th season with the Lions, the team is confident in their trio of specialists heading into 2015.

"I don't think we've got to worry about our kicker, our punter, our snapper," special teams coach Joe Marciano said last month.

The Lions do have some needs on special teams. They'd like to upgrade the return position and find a couple more coverage guys. But those spots will be filled with some combination of receivers, running backs, defensive backs and linebackers.

"We'll make the returner position very competitive," Marciano said.

The Lions likely will sign a kicker and punter to take some reps away from Martin and Prater. It might be Notre Dame's Kyle Brindza, a Canton native the Lions worked out, because he can do both. But the most likely route is signing someone who goes undrafted.

* Go through the gallery above or go here for Josh Katzenstein's top three kickers and top three punters in the NFL draft.