The Matthew Stafford Experiment: Side Effects May Vary

Sean O'BrienCorrespondent IApril 25, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 1: Quarterback Matthew Stafford #7 of the University of Georgia looks to pass against the Michigan State Spartans at the 2009 Capital One Bowl at the Citrus Bowl on January 1, 2009 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

As I'm sure we all know by now, the Lions have officially chosen Matthew Stafford as their No. 1 overall pick in the draft.  He is guaranteed $41.7 million, but beyond that, his contract gets murky.  Multiple sites, including SI.com and ESPN.com, seem to have multiple opinions on his contract's overall worth.

However, this article is not about the amount of money Matt Stafford is due.  This article is about the effects the signing will have, both on the Lions and the rest of the league.

1. The Lions Now Have a Face of the Franchise

Last year, the 0-16 Lions were a mess, to say the very least.  They were in desperate need of someone to represent all the franchise stood for.  This year, they will enter the season with a new head coach, general manager and now a new franchise quarterback. 

Even though Jim Scwhartz has essentially earned a rockstar status as the new head coach, make no mistake, Stafford is the face of this organization now.

Like the Atlanta Falcons of last year, Detroit desperately needed an identity and I believe they found one in Matthew Stafford.  Don't misunderstand me, he is NOT the next Matt Ryan and I feel very strongly about that. A quarterback like that only comes about once in a great while.

Statistically, Matt Stafford is more likely to be a Joey Harrington clone then a Matt Ryan, or even Joe Flacco one.  I believe he needs one to two years on the bench behind a rejuvenated Daunte Culpepper before he stands a chance at becoming the franchise savior.  I just hope Detroit doesn't bend to public pressure and put him in too soon.

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2. Mark Sanchez's Stock Just Rose...A Lot

USC quarterback Mark Sanchez is the next great thing in the draft now that Stafford is unavailable.  As quickly as Stafford was taken, he will be forgotten, at least until Sanchez is signed.

With quarterback holes in multiple teams, Sanchez is a hot commodity.  Not to mention, several analysts had Sanchez rated higher then Stafford before the signing.  St. Louis seems poised to take him and use him as trade bait.  Seattle's No. 4 spot just became a whole lot sexier as well, that is, assuming St. Louis doesn't work something out first.

I think the wild card in this situation is Kansas City at No. 3.  Scott Pioli is a genius and has worked wonders for the floundering franchise in a short time.  I would not be surprised if right now he was aggressively flaunting his third pick to teams like New York, Tampa Bay, Washington and maybe even Denver.

3. The Lion's No. 20 Pick Just Became a Whole Lot More Interesting

Now that Stafford is "the pick", the Lions need to turn their attention to their second first-round selection.  You don't go 0-16 because of a few glaring holes.  It takes a slough of issues before that happens.

A franchise tackle would certainly be helpful, but will any premier players be left at 20 when so many other teams lack talent at that position?  Michael Oher, Andre Smith, and even Eben Britton may all be gone by 20. 

That's without even mentioning Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe.  After them, the talent level begins to look more like second round material.

Now we turn to the defensive needs the Lions have.  Certainly DT B.J. Raji will be gone by No. 20, but players like Peria Jerry, Evander Hood, and Fili Moala may still be around.  Any of these three would be an instant upgrade to the Lion's defensive line.  They might even give DEs Larry English or Connor Barwin a look, depending on who's available.

Bottom line is this: it all starts in the trenches.  Both the O Line and D Line could use upgrades.  Whether it's protecting or pressuring the quarterback, the Lions need to be conservative and intelligent with their second pick.  Draft for need when you're rebuilding, and for God's sake, don't take another receiver.

4. Whatever Need Isn't Addressed With the No. 20 Overall Pick MUST be Addressed with the 33rd Overall Pick

Having the first pick in the second round is a powerful tool.  The talent level won't drop off very significantly from 20 to 33, which means the Lions can address whichever side of the ball they chose not to with No. 20.

Players like Eric Wood or William Beatty could still be lingering in the second round and could provide upgrades to the offensive line. 

On the other side, DT Ron Brace or S Louis Delmas will probably still be floating around and could step in to contribute immediately to last year's worst defense.

The Lions need to look for as many instant upgrades as they can if they want to "restore the roar."  By taking Stafford at No. 1, the Lions ensured defensive and offensive issues still need to be addressed at this crucial pick.

What do you guys think?

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