With the First Pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions Select...
Come on! We're you surprised?
Since the Capital One Bowl game ended on Jan. 1, every analyst from Bristol to Los Angeles had crowned Matt Stafford the next Detroit Lions quarterback. Because of their assumptions and crystal balling, we have all grown impatient.
As Carly Simon sang,
"Anticipation, its making me late, keeping me waiting."
How much longer can we wait for Matthew Stafford to get to Detroit? Well, technically, another month and 20 days.
Even Stafford is growing impatient, and his impatience has clearly affected his judgment and decision making.
In a February interview with Sports Illustrated, Matt Stafford proclaimed that he would love to play in Detroit. He followed up that absurd statement by saying that he believed Detroit was the best place for him to start a career.
Now, I could give you facts about Detroit's lack of personnel on offense, the tremendous amount of sacks allowed by their offensive line, or that their offense ranked close to last in almost every category.
Here is all you need to know about Detroit and why Stafford's statement is ludicrous:
In 2008, the Lions went 0-16. Never has such a feat been accomplished in the NFL's existence.
If I was Head Coach Jim Schwartz and I heard Stafford's comments, I would take Mark Sanchez with the first pick instead. Not because he's better, but because he hasn't said anything stupid lately.
Stafford also goes on to say that it is his competitive nature that drives him to want to play in Detroit:
"I'm being completely honest, and it has nothing to do with money-I would love to go to Detroit," Stafford said in the Sports Illustrated story. "My friends say, 'C'mon, gimme a break.' But I'm a competitive guy. The Lions have passionate fans, a great stadium, and I'd be throwing to the biggest freak (Calvin Johnson), with the most talent, of any receiver in the NFL."
Matthew, maybe your friends don't want you to go to Detroit because they are the worst team in the NFL?
Also referring to your future receiver as "the biggest freak," might not go over too well. He tried valiantly to balance the statement by saying he has more talent than any other receiver in the NFL.
While this is very kind of you to say Matthew, have you lost your mind?!
Does young Stafford fail to realize that there are three Hall of Fame receivers in the league right now?
All kidding aside, I think Matthew Stafford is the best choice with the No. 1 pick. Stupid comments or not.
Especially if you're the Detroit Lions whose team resembled a Pop Warner squad in 2008; after trying out five different quarterbacks and allowing them to get sacked 52 times last year. You're now left with either Stafford or an open tryout to any and all people with quarterback experience (I'd take Matthew Stafford).
I can understand why Stafford is salivating over the opportunity to throw to Calvin Johnson; at Georgia, the 6'3" Texas native never had an elite receiver. In his last year at Georgia, Stafford was able to play along side freshman sensation A.J. Green.
The Summerville, SC phenom caught 56 passes for 963 yards and eight touchdowns. Before he got to Georgia, A.J. Green was a local celebrity, known for this insane one handed catch.
Stafford's other receiver though, Mohamed Massaquoi, was blessed with a glorious ability to underachieve.
After a freshman campaign of 38 receptions for 505 yards, Massaquoi never got close to those numbers again, until this year when he had 58 receptions for 920 yards and eight touchdowns.
After throwing to Massaquoi for three years, I now understand why Calvin Johnson would look like Captain Marvel to Stafford.
Physically, Stafford has the size of a pro quarterback at 6'3" 237 pounds. Along with his prototypical stature, scouts have also said that Stafford has the strongest arm in the draft.
Statistically, he is solid as well: 61.4 completion percentage, 3459 yards 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
In just three years at Georgia, Stafford has thrown for 7731 yards, 51 touchdowns and 33 interceptions.
As a starter he is 17-4, and he has been team Captain since his sophomore year.
I criticized Matt Stafford for his comments in that February SI interview, saying he believed Detroit was the best place to start his career was foolish.
It was in jest that I criticized his decision making, but in reality, decision making is an area Matt Stafford struggles with.
On the field, he makes poor decisions.
Each player has their strengths and weaknesses. Decision-making is not one of Stafford's strengths.
In big games the pressure on Stafford has a tendency to do two things:
Valiantly lead his team down the field for the score and the win or choke and turn the ball over.
Matt Stafford is the definition of "go big or go home" and in the last two years he has done both.
Last year as a sophomore, Stafford was instrumental in a 42-30 win against Florida, he threw for 217 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Three weeks later against Kentucky, he threw for 99 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions, in a too close for comfort 24-13 victory.
Inconsistency continued to plague him his junior year as well.
This year against LSU, Matt Stafford threw for 249 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. His Bulldogs won easily, 52-38.
A month earlier, against South Carolina, though Stafford threw for 146 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions making the game closer than it needed to be. Georgia luckily prevailed 14-7.
His inconsistency and decision making are the only knocks against him. Both can be improved over time; he is only a junior and has declared a year early. I think Stafford is a project quarterback. I say meaning, I believe it will take him two or three years to become acclimated with the pace of the NFL.
Due to his inconsistency it would not surprise me if Stafford thew 15+ interceptions his rookie or even sophomore year in the NFL. Detroit fans, don't hate him when he throws a lot of interceptions, for good things come to those who wait.
Also, for all the Lion's faithful out there, he is not Matt Ryan. Please don't expect him to be. Each year analysts try to figure out which one of this year's players is last year's so and so. Realize that there is only one Matt Ryan, and only one Joe Flacco. Therefore, there is also only one Matt Stafford.
The only thing Stafford and Ryan have in common is a first name.
Matthew Stafford may not be the most complete and polished quarterback in the draft, but his potential seems to be great. His size combined with his cannon of an arm gives him everything he needs, to not only be the first quarterback taken in the draft, but the first player as well.
With the first pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions should select: Matthew Stafford, quarterback, University of Georgia.
On the clock: Minnesota
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