NFL Combine Analysis: Matthew Stafford

Isaac ScheidtCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2009

When he enters the combine, there will be a lot of pressure for him to measure up on the field and off.

The NFL combine has always seemed to me to be a little peculiar.

Top prospects from around the country are all brought in to be scrutinized under a microscope to measure things that don’t necessarily translate into on-field production.

Through the years, we have seen countless examples of why the combine cannot predict the future potential of a player, especially at the quarterback position.

On one side, players like Tom Brady came out of nowhere and rose to prominence as a league MVP.

The flip side is that highly-ranked players like Michael Vick can completely destroy a franchise through off-field performance even though he had all the talent in the world. 

Coming out of high school in Highland Park, Texas, Stafford was recognized to have the biggest arm of anyone in his class.

He has a very quick release of the ball and has no problem throwing the deep out route and knocking the wind out of the receiver at the same time. There is no questioning that in a practice drill he stands toe-to-toe with anyone else in the country as one of the greatest young prospects.

When Stafford is “on” there are few quarterbacks who can take over a game the way he does.

He has had flashes of brilliance such as his 407 yard, five TD performance against Georgia Tech this year. He set a Georgia Bulldog’s single season record 25 TD’s in the 2008 season and amassed 3,459 passing yards.

Another thing that many have noticed about Stafford is his ability to read defenses.

During his three years in Athens, the coaching staff has spent a lot of time training the young man on how to play smart.

In 2008 when he was given more of the decision making on offense Coach Mark Richt said that Stafford was calling audibles on about half of the plays. He has become an expert at reading defenses and is steps ahead of most other NFL prospects in his knowledge of the game. 

One of the biggest question marks for Stafford is if he can get past his reputation of not being able to come through in the big game. In Georgia’s losses to Alabama and Florida his senior season he threw four combined interceptions and only managed two TD’s late against the Crimson Tide.

Although Stafford can be brilliant at times, he has been known to be plagued with inconsistency, a trait that cannot be masked in the NFL.

Another concern would be Stafford’s teachability.

He has so much potential and is so physically gifted that at times he seems to try to play above his potential. While this is a concern for some scouts, others argue that all of the greats have some of this in their DNA.

Let’s not kid ourselves. Matthew Stafford has a cannon for an arm! The kid has his question marks attached, but so does every budding star.

Much of his future in the NFL will depend on what other offensive weapons are around him. Right now the Detroit Lions seem to be the most probable landing spot for the Bulldog quarterback and that is not good news for him.

An 0-16 season doesn’t lie. There’s a reason they didn’t win a game last year: They need more than a quarterback! 

Stafford will definitely be a factor in the NFL in years to come. If he can focus on improving his decision-making and learning the new systems then he has a shot to be a great.

He has all the physical tools to succeed and he has great potential to become the next big name quarterback in the league.