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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Quarterback class struggles at combine

Teams in need of a quarterback this offseason might not want to pass on what’s available on the free agent market because the QB class at the NFL scouting combine had a rough weekend.

Georgia’s Matthew Stafford might have been on to something when he didn’t workout this weekend at the combine, because his quarterback brethren didn’t fair too well according to the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock and Paul Burmeister. In fact, the quarterback who impressed the most during drills was West Virginia’s Pat White, who might not even project as a QB in the NFL. White apparently showed the best arm strength of any QB on out routes and also looked very comfortable on a whole.

Scouts said that Mark Sanchez’s (USC) throws were strong and powerful, although his release looked elongated. I had the chance to watch the combine on the NFL Network and I would say his accuracy wasn’t up to snuff, either (or at least not for a quarterback prospect expected to be selected in the first round).

Among the quarterback prospects that really struggled were Alabama’s John Parker Wilson, Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell and Kansas State’s Josh Freeman. Wilson and Harrell were going to be late round projects no matter how they fared at the combine, but Freeman was supposed to have the best physical tools of any QB in the draft. Apparently his first round projection in some mocks was way off.

Stafford’s gamble to not workout might have paid off. Sanchez was the only guy that could have unseated Stafford as the top quarterback prospect and while he was okay in drills, he was far from spectacular.

Teams might be better off waiting for Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford and Texas’s Colt McCoy to come out next year because outside of Stafford and maybe Sanchez, most of the quarterbacks in this year’s class are developmental projects at best.

Top 32 NFL Draft Prospects

Pete Prisco of 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.

Read the rest after the jump...

Report: Matthew Stafford won’t work out at NFL combine

The best quarterback prospect in the 2009 NFL Draft might not work out at the combine next week as Georgia signal caller Matthew Stafford’s agent is advising his client to skip the event according to a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Matthew StaffordThe word is Matthew Stafford isn’t going to workout. I hope he changes his mind. The league wants to see him handle a big NFL stage, not some controlled workout at his Pro Day in familiar surroundings. You want folks to drop millions in your pocket and you don’t want to work out?

In recent years, some of the top players went to the combine and worked out. Tech’s Calvin Johnson didn’t have to work out, but he got there, borrowed some sneakers and worked out. That impressed executives leaguewide.

Come on Stafford, tell your agent to go get a steak at St. Elmos, and then wander out to the drills and start throwing it around. Show they NFL folks why you are the No. 1 pick in the draft. Agents wants teams to Show me the Money!!! They should make their players Show them the Skills!!!

Some agents have always considered the combine a risk but in Stafford’s case, he’s likely to be the first quarterback selected overall anyway, so maybe his agent feels that the combine can only hurt his stock. Still, I agree with D. Orlando Ledbetter from the AJC – if you want teams to drop millions of dollars on you, the least you can do is go out there and chuck the ball around for a few days. After all, if you believe in your skill set, there should be no hesitation to show it off outside of your Pro Day.

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