Matthew Stafford and the Many Reasons Detroit Will Not Draft the QB

Derrick DennisContributor IFebruary 15, 2009

“There were any number of yes-men available, and we did not pick any of those guys.”

That is how GM Martin Mayhew articulated his reason for hiring James "Shack" Harris as the Detroit Lions' personnel director.

If you do not know Harris, he was a former NFL quarterback and the personnel director of the Baltimore Ravens from 1997 until 2002. During this time, the Ravens went 6-9-1 in 1997, 6-10 in 1998, 8-8 in 1999, 12-4 in 2000, 10-6 in 2001, and 7-9 in 2002.

They picked up a Super Bowl ring in 2000 with Trent Dilfer as their quarterback. During Harris' tenure, the Ravens never drafted a quarterback higher than the third round.

The year after Harris left the Ravens, Baltimore drafted Kyle Boller with the 19th overall pick. He was a bust.

In Harris' six seasons in Jacksonville, the Jaguars went 5-11, 9-7, 12-4, 8-8, 11-5, and then 5-11. That type of inconsistency forced Harris to resign.
However, the Lions fans would love to have those records. We would tolerate a 5-11 season now. We just want to brag about one 12-4 or 11-5 season.
Before Harris arrived at Jacksonville, the Jaguars took David Garrard with their fourth-round pick in the 2002 draft. The next year, the Jaguars took Byron Leftwich with their first-round pick and seventh overall in the 2003 draft.
Garrard beat Leftwich for the starting job. Moreover, Leftwich's level of play continues to decline.
Head coach Jim Schwartz has experience with drafting quarterbacks. In 2006, the Tennessee Titans took Vince Young with the third overall pick. Last season, Young sat on the bench while Kerry Collins started.
Mayhew is good friends with the GM of the Arizona Cardinals and has been quoted as saying he wants to imitate the Cardinals' personnel decisions. That might not be a good idea.
With the 10th overall pick, the Cardinals took Matt Leinhart. Last season, Leinhart watched Kurt Warner resurrect his career.
Mayhew, Schwartz, and Harris have seen the risk of signing unproven quarterbacks to large contracts. Considering this experience, the Lions would have to be crazy to draft a quarterback.
They would be even crazier to draft a quarterback after listening to these experts:
“They’re not super-elite prospects. By that, I mean they’re not guaranteed No. 1 players in this draft on the board. I don’t think either one would be the No. 1 player on the board of a lot of teams."—ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. on Stafford and Sanchez
“Eight of the past 11 underclassman quarterbacks drafted in the first round have either failed to meet expectations or been outright busts.”—draft analyst Todd McShay
In my opinion, the Lions will trade the first pick of the draft.
For the first time, I agree with Detroit Free Press writer Drew Sharp. The Lions want to create uncertainty about their intentions. They hope this uncertainty will cause a team to trade up to take Stafford or Sanchez.
The Lions can trade out of the first pick to pick up a much-needed second round pick or more. Perhaps, Mayhew can repeat his Roy Williams performance and fleece another team on Draft Day.
I think the Lions should draft Graham Harrell in one of the later rounds. He could be a steal.
In the games I watched, Harrell impressed me more than Stafford, and Harrell was playing tougher competition. I could be missing something, but I would rather draft Harrell late in the third round than take Stafford with the first overall pick.