Allen Park — The Detroit Lions' interest in quarterback David Blough dates further than the preseason finale, when they got a first-hand look at what he can do on the field.
No, the Lions were keen on Blough after a pre-draft workout quarterback coach Sean Ryan attended in the prospect's hometown of Carrollton, Texas, this offseason. Every aspect of the workout impressed Ryan, from Blough's ability to assemble and orchestrate the event to how he processed information to how he threw the ball.
"I certainty felt he did a good job in our meeting handling the information that was given him," Ryan said. "Part of the evaluation is handling the football stuff that gets presented to him and his recall and how he can give it back to you. I thought he did a great job with that. He showed really great football intelligence, so that impressed me.
"Then the workout itself, he did a good job first of all getting a bunch of guys to go out and run routes for him," Ryan continued. "We were down in his hometown and he was able to show some leadership putting that together, which I thought was a good start. And throughout the workout, I thought he showed good arm strength. He could make all the throws, was accurate, completed a lot of balls. Overall, I thought it was a strong workout in the classroom and on the field."
So when Blough became available late this week, the Lions were able to swing a deal for him at the low cost of an optional swap of seventh-round draft picks three years from now.
A third-team All-Big Ten performer at Purdue last season, Blough signed with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent. In four preseason games, he completed 58.1 percent of his throws for 271 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Those two picks both came against the Lions during last Thursday's preseason finale. The first saw Blough's arm hit on his throw, severely altering the trajectory, while the second, a deep ball, was snagged on a slick play by cornerback Jamar Summers.
"It’s kind of interesting when you get to the end of the draft, you’re trying to get free agents, you’re trying to draft guys in the end of the sixth and seventh round — guys you want to take a look at, guys you spent some time with through the course of the draft," Matt Patricia. "It’s almost like you have a second opportunity to do that as you get toward the end of training camp. Some of those guys become available or other teams may move on from those players, and you still want to get a good look at them, so you try to do the best you can. So, that’s what happened with that situation."
Most teams carry three quarterbacks, one way or another. The majority of franchises have their third on the practice squad, while 14 teams enter this week with three on the main roster.
This marks the first time the Lions have entered the first week of the regular season with three QBs on their 53-man roster since 2014, when Kellen Moore and Dan Orlovsky both made the team behind starter Matthew Stafford.
The role of the third quarterback, regardless of their roster standing is an important one. They are expected to run the scout-team offense, which simulates the upcoming week's opponent. A good scout-team quarterback can better help the defense prepare for the matchup, which is an area the Lions see added value with Blough.
"It's huge," Ryan said. "It's bigger than most people outside the deal realize, how important that role is to have a guy that takes pride in it, even studying the opposing quarterbacks and do his best to show our defense what it's going to look like on Sundays. That's a huge factor for those guys. It's a big deal."