Lions to take Matthew Stafford with first pick?

Lions’ beat writer Nicholas J. Cotsonika believes that Detroit will select Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford with the first overall pick in April’s draft.

I don’t think they have settled on Stafford by any means. He didn’t throw at the NFL scouting combine, and he hasn’t had his pro day yet. It also might come down to contract talks. The Lions want to get something done before the draft and plan to negotiate with at least three top candidates.

But I think Stafford could fit and the Lions are set up to take him. He has a big arm to get the ball to the Lions’ best player, wide receiver Calvin Johnson. He is compared to Jay Cutler. And for whom did the Lions just try to trade? Jay Cutler. Stafford could sit behind Daunte Culpepper for a while. He doesn’t have to be thrown into the fire the way Joey Harrington was.

When I talk to writers from other cities, they are amazed that Curry or a left tackle would be a more popular choice than Stafford for the first pick. They assume the fans would go ga-ga over a quarterback. They don’t understand how Lions fans have been burned by huge draft misses at offensive skill positions.

Still, I’m amazed at how afraid some Lions fans are of taking a quarterback. You have to learn from the past, but you can’t let past failures paralyze you. The Lions can’t force it. They can’t just take a quarterback for the sake of taking a quarterback. But I don’t think they will.

This is a long-term project, and quarterback is a good place to start when you’re starting from scratch. I think if they think Stafford has what it takes to lead this franchise to a championship, they will take him and groom him as carefully as they can.

One thing everyone has to remember is that the Lions have to believe that Stafford (specifically) is their long-term fix at quarterback. It’s not about taking a quarterback because you need a quarterback or taking an offensive lineman because you need an offensive lineman. That player obviously has to fit a team’s scheme, philosophy and overall makeup. That may seem like an obvious statement, but the more and more I listen to fans and some media members, you’d think that drafting a quarterback is as easy as shopping for toilet paper.

Curry will give Stafford a run at the No. 1 pick – I guarantee you. He’s arguably the best overall player in the draft, can play multiple linebacker positions and seems to have a good head on his shoulders. He would be a great new defensive toy for new head coach Jim Schwartz.

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Athlete Profile: Aaron Curry

Aaron Curry, a 6-2, 250-lb linebacker out of Wake Forest University, has parlayed his physical tools, a great senior season and an eye-opening combine workout to make himself the can’t-miss pick in April’s upcoming NFL draft.

What a difference two years makes.

Back in 2007, Curry returned to Fayetteville, N.C. after a season that saw him finish second in team tackles with 83, only to find out that his mom, Chris, had been evicted from their family home.

After telling his family story during last week’s scouting combine, NFL teams know now that in addition to all of his football skills, Curry is a resilient and family-oriented young man. He says that his no. 1 priority after signing his pro contract is to buy a house for his mom.

Curry’s physical tools are astounding. He’s bulked up to a formidable 250 pounds after weighing under 200 coming out of high school (a big reason why he only received scholarship offers from Wake Forest and East Carolina University – he picked Wake for its academics). He’s a playmaker as much as he is a consistent run-stopping force. During his junior year, he returned three interceptions for touchdowns, bringing back the picks for a school-record of 226 total yards.

In a “three questions” interview with ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert, Detroit Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz (the man helping to decide who the Lions will pick with the draft’s no. 1 overall pick) described Curry’s unique skill set.


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Top 32 NFL Draft Prospects

Pete Prisco of CBSSportsline.com ranked the top 32 prospects in this year’s NFL draft.

Here are his top 10:

1. Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia: When he throws for the scouts, they will be in awe. There are some who think he locks on to receivers at times. But that can happen to young passers with big arms.

2. Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest: Think Derrick Brooks. He’s a run-and-chase linebacker who has good size at 240 pounds. He might be the cleanest player in the draft, the one with the fewest flaws.

3. B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College: He’s a power player who could not be blocked at the Senior Bowl. At 335 pounds, he also has good quickness.

4. Jason Smith, T, Baylor: This former tight end has great feet and plays with a nasty streak. He is 6-4, 300 pounds and has the frame to get bigger. He’s a better pass blocker, but will get better for the run as he matures.

5. Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech: He is the next Larry Fitzgerald. He’s big and strong. The once concern with him is his 40 time. But Fitzgerald wasn’t fast either.

6. Eugene Monroe, T, Virginia: He’s another tackle who is better as a pass protector than blocking for the run. Is that a bad thing?

7. Andre Smith, T, Alabama: He played left tackle at Alabama, but some scouts wonder if he’s not more of a right tackle. He’s the best run blocker of the three top tackles, but he has struggled with some speed rushers.

8. Mark Sanchez, QB, USC: He’s accurate, poised and his arm is plenty strong. The knock on him will be that he was a one-hit wonder. Don’t believe it.

9. Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State: He’s a smart cover player who might not have blazing speed, but he plays fast enough. He’s easily the top corner in this draft.

10. Everette Brown, LB-DE, Florida State: Think Dwight Freeney. He’s short at 6-1 but has a great burst off the edge. He might even rise up this board as we go through the process.

Everyone is going to have varying opinions on which prospect is better than the next (everyone is an expert this time of year), but I think that’s a pretty solid top 10. I don’t think Sanchez is a top 10 prospect, but that’s just me. For the amount of talent USC had this year, he certainly didn’t dominant and I think he’s a raw prospect in that he’ll need a couple years to develop.


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