SI ranks Lions’ backup QB situation 31st in NFL

The Detroit News

Quarterback Matthew Stafford has started 96 straight games for the Lions.

They could be in trouble if that streak is snapped at some point next season.

That’s according to Sports Illustrated, which on Monday ranked the Lions’ backup quarterback situation 31st out of 32 NFL teams.

The only team in a worse predicament, according to the publication? The Buccaneers, who boast Ryan Griffin as Jameis Winston's understudy.

Sports Illustrated devised its rankings based on the scenario that a team’s starter goes down with an injury, and his return isn’t imminent.

“Which team’s next man up has both the short-term poise to steady the ship in a hurry and the intermediate-term potential to grow into the role,” asks writer Eric Single.

For the Lions, that would fall on either Jake Rudock, their 2016 sixth-round NFL draft pick out of Michigan, or Brad Kaaya, drafted last month in the sixth round out of Miami (Fla.).

“The Lions see something in Rudock,” Single writes, “they signed the Michigan product off the practice squad in November to keep him away from the Bears — but for the price of a sixth-round pick, Kaaya is a worthy long-term project who at least looks the part. The impending extension for Matthew Stafford should give both youngsters plenty of much-needed time to marinate.”

Jimmy Garoppolo, who backs up former Michigan quarterback and multi-Super Bowl winner Tom Brady in New England, leads Sports Illustrated’s list.

Other notables include former Michigan quarterback Chad Henne, who checks in at No. 9 for the Jaguars as the backup to Blake Bortles. Former Michigan State and Lions quarterback Drew Stanton is No. 11 with the Cardinals, while former Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook teams with EJ Manuel to form the Raiders’ 25th-ranked backup quarterback situation. Ex-Lions third-stringer Kellen Moore is 28th with the Cowboys.

Nick Foles of the Eagles ranks 15th, while Ryan Mallett of the Ravens is 16th. Foles and Mallett spent brief stints at Michigan State and Michigan, respectively.