Now that the dust has settled, the projections for 2009 can come pouring in.
Matthew Stafford is the most polished No. 1 draft pick since Eli Manning.
Let me explain.
Stafford started as a sophmore at Highland Park HS in Dallas, Texas. He threw for 8200 yards and 94 TDs.
At UGA, Stafford started as a true freshman in the SEC—where football is played at a faster pace than in any other conference in the NCAA.
The Dawgs ran a pro-style offense, where Stafford tallied 7700 yards and 51 TDs in just 34 games.
Many people have called Stafford inconsistent, but few players have had to overcome the attrition, youth, inexperience, and injuries like Georgia had to during Stafford's tenure.
The resume implies that Stafford has consistently jumped to the next level and made an immediate impact.
So why isn't he going to succeed in Detroit this fall?
Consider that Stafford has inherited an offense that features Calvin Johnson—who has proven to be as good as everyone expected.
The Lions acquired Bryant Johnson and Ronald Curry in the offseason, guys that have proven to be productive when they are not the primary target.
Brandon Pettigrew (TE, Oklahoma State) and Derrick Williams (a dynamic WR/KR from Penn State) were added in the draft and are expected to make immediate impacts in the passing game and special teams respectively.
Point is, the Lions will have significant talent at Stafford's disposal.
In the trenches, the Lions have an offensive line that rendered an NFL leading 52 sacks last season, which is something David Carr would not of minded back in 2002 (sacked 76 times).
The numbers aren't indicative of the actual play: Quarterbacks John Kitna, Dan Orlovsky, Drew Stanton, and Daunte Culpepper didn't necessarily get rid of the ball in less than four seconds.
The weakest spots on the roster are the defensive line and secondary. Perhaps the additions of Phillip Buchanon and Anthony Henry will help the soft, inexperienced secondary.
I'm not trying to suggest that the Lions are "under the radar'"for the 2009 NFL season, but I am suggesting that they are close. This team has serious talent in place and if they can get more on the defensive side of the ball, they will be a force to contend with.
I see Matthew Stafford contending for NFL Rookie of the Year in 2009, I see Calvin Johson making the Pro Bowl, and I see the Lions being playoff contenders in 2010.
Stafford 2009 Stats
3300 yards, 24 TD, 28 INT
Write it down.