Detroit Lions' Draft: Jay Cutler Trade Secures Matthew Stafford at No. 1

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Detroit Lions' Draft: Jay Cutler Trade Secures Matthew Stafford at No. 1
(Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

Jay Cutler has been traded to the Bears offering more than the Lions could afford. 

Many Lions fans were angered Cutler did not end up in Detroit, that same anger was felt in many NFL cities. 

Rumors have surfaced stating Cutler only wanted to play for the Bears and Titans, limiting Denver’s options and ensuring Cutler wasn’t a Lion.

Moving on from Cutler, Matthew Stafford has been now put in the spotlight.

Cutler and Stafford have one major similarity; they are both gunslingers. Both quarterbacks have big arms and will throw the ball downfield; resulting in many touchdowns and interceptions.

Now the Lions are losing the “arms” race in the NFC North. Green Bay is set with Aaron Rodgers, Minnesota traded for Sage Rosenfels to compete with Tarvaris Jackson and the Bears now have Cutler.

Many Lions fans either want Matthew Stafford at quarterback or are completely against it, there seems to be no middle ground.

Though fans tend to forget that from the end of the college season until the NFL Draft, every potential draft pick is heavily scrutinized, emphasizing every possible flaw. 

Stafford left Georgia after his junior season; history has shown that being an underclassman is a major hurdle to overcome. 

Underclassman successes are few, though Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick have prevailed. Stafford acknowledged this fact by stating, “I think they’re drafting a person as well and it’s such an individual difference between players.” 

The underclassman fact seems to be a ridiculous argument as others have succeeded and similar attempts could be made to dismiss the other top prospects from being considered for the first overall pick. 

Neither Wake Forest (Aaron Curry) nor Baylor (Jason Smith) has produced any major NFL talents.

Another argument for the anti-Stafford crowd is: The Lions need to get one of the quarterbacks next year, referring to Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy.

The problem is the Lions have been a terrible team for the last eight years and the last time they possessed the first overall pick was 1980, when they drafted Billy Sims.

There is no way to predict the Lions would be in position to select one of those quarterbacks, this year may be the only occasion the Lions can select whichever quarterback they choose. 

Bradford and McCoy are not a lock to become quality NFL starters, the only Big XII quarterback that may start in 2010 is Sage Rosenfels, Iowa State alum.

Vince Young, Jason White of Oklahoma, and many others has not succeeded, while Matthew Stafford’s SEC boasts Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Jay Cutler, and Jason Campbell. Of course, this does not prove Stafford will become a quality NFL player, but neither are Bradford and McCoy.

Peyton Manning wasn’t even a lock with the first overall pick, many debated it should have been Ryan Leaf. There is no sure-fire NFL star players, all teams draft with educated guesses.

The four prospects associated with the first overall pick are Matthew Stafford, Aaron Curry, Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe. Let’s take a look at some of the negatives surrounding them. 

Stafford has the underclassman stigma looming overhead, as well as his mediocre completion percentage. Though his offensive line may have attributed to his average play, Georgia had no veteran leadership on their offensive line last season and also sustaining eight injuries on the line.

Aaron Curry possibly the Lions fan favorite to be drafted first overall, isn’t a certainty for NFL stardom. Detroit already has two high paid linebackers in Julian Peterson and Ernie Sims, it seems unlikely the Lions could afford a third. 

Baltimore had this dilemma this offseason with Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and Bart Scott all looking for pay days, the Ravens quickly lost Scott, who signed the Jets for $48 million.

Tom Lewand, the Lions president, recently told the media, they were in contract negotiations with three prospects. When Curry was asked if he was in negotiations with the Lions, Curry stated his agent was not in contact with the Lions.

The other two prospect vying for the No. 1 spot are offensive tackles Jason Smith of Baylor and Eugene Monroe of Virginia. 

Detroit recently brought LT Ephraim Salaam to town, could this mean Stafford is their choice at No. 1?

It seems possible; especially knowing last year three of the four teams that made coaching changes took a quarterback in the first two rounds last year.

Smith has the most upside, which also means he isn’t a finished product. He also played at Baylor, which is not known for producing NFL caliber players with Daryl Gardner being the last Baylor Bear selected 20th overall in the 1996 draft. 

Smith has been linked as the probably selection, if Matthew Stafford is not selected by the Lions on Apr. 25.

Eugene Monroe doesn’t produce the mean streak of Jason Smith, was not selected a team captain and is not a vocal leader. Monroe gets praised for keeping the Chiefs first round pick from 2007, left tackle Brandon Albert,  at left guard his last year at Virginia. 

Yet, Monroe was moved to left tackle after Albert sustained an injury, when Albert returned the team didn’t want to disrupt things so Albert was inserted as a left guard.  It didn’t seem to be caused by Monroe’s play.

One fact to consider are the Lions have several holes to fill, including one at quarterback and at least one on the offensive line.

There are only three potential first round quarterbacks and roughly eight offensive tackles that are projected to go in the first round, meaning the Lions will have a shot at a solid offensive lineman with either the 20th or 33rd pick. 

Detroit could even fill their defensive needs and target an offensive tackle next year, by playing Daunte Culpepper and allowing Stafford to learn from the sidelines which benefited Carson Palmer and Aaron Rodgers.

Stafford seems to be a very likely selection, this is sure to drive Lions fans crazy with happiness or anger. 

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