Posted on: September 7, 2009 1:59 pm
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz announced after practice today that #1 overall pick Matthew Stafford will be the starter over veteran Duante Culpepper for Week One against the Saints.
Schwartz, like the head coach of any team that used a first round pick on a quarterback, is in a tough spot. The financial commitment made to Stafford forces the team to consider using him, even if he isn't necessarily ready. This isn't to say that Stafford isn't. He is as physically talented as any quarterback I've scouted in the 10+ years I've been doing this. His mental toughness and poise consistently impressed me throughout his collegiate career and in the workouts leading up to the draft.
I believe, however, that the greatest single reason why there continue to be so many first round busts at quarterback is that too many rookies are thrown into the fire. I do not believe the success from Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco last season are reason enough to believe that rookie quarterbacks are suddenly more ready for the rigors of an NFL season. Atlanta and Baltimore had the luxury of strong running games and defenses to foster development of a young passer. Detroit hasn't yet shown either. The New York Jets, on the other hand, do have these factors working in the favor of Mark Sanchez. Should the Jets capitalize on their talent and the enthusiasm Rex Ryan has brought to the franchise by winning early with Sanchez, the pressure will only increase on Stafford to duplicate the success. Some will question if Sanchez shouldn't then have been the #1 pick rather than Stafford.
I believe Stafford has the tools to be a successful NFL quarterback -- someday perhaps even a Pro Bowl quarterback. And I certainly understand the impulse to start him now and allow him to develop a relationship with Calvin Johnson and the rest of the starting Lions.
But for a quarterback who completed 54.5% of his passes over the preseason with a touchdown to interception ratio of 1-4 over four preseason games, it might be too soon.
And starting any rookie quarterback too soon is a huge gamble.
Posted on: August 15, 2009 6:19 pm
I've always found it interesting that for all of the pre-draft hype, there is very little reporting done on a national scale as to how rookies are actually performing during the preseason.
For this reason, I'll be watching as many preseason games as possible over the next few weeks and providing my impressions of the rookies' play in the blog.
Of course, the majority of my reports will be on the early round picks. However, I've already been impressed by several late rounders in the early preseason games and will be reporting on them here as this occurs.
That said, as the first overall pick of the 2009 Draft, it is only appropriate that my first Rookie Impression was Matthew Stafford's performance against the Atlanta Falcons today.
Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions, QB - #9 : Entered halfway through 2nd quarter against mostly second-team defenders for the Falcons. Accurate, rifle arm apparent early. Zipped passes over the middle and down the sideline, impressing early despite two ugly drops by veteran Keary Colbert. Tried to do too much with some interior pressure in his face and rushed a quick-out to the tight end Dan Gronkowski, which linebacker Tony Gilbert (ironically, a former UGA Bulldog) stepped in front of and returned for an easy 42 yard touchdown. Stafford shouldn't have thrown the pass, but in his defense, he took immediate pressure and there has been a troubling lack of separation shown by Detroit receivers throughout this game. Came back in his next series to lead Detroit to the Lion's first offensive touchdown of the preseason. Drive started at own 20. Showed good toughness and a recognition of the first down marker in recognizing tight coverage and releasing to scramble for the first down early in the drive. Ran hard and drug two Falcon defenders to get the yardage. Threw a beautiful flag route for a 25 yard touchdown to fellow rookie Derrick Williams over tight coverage. Veteran-like throw. Looked off the defense, good release and follow-through despite taking a hit from a blitzing safety to complete the pass. Put the ball over Williams inside shoulder and into his out-stretched arms where only he could touch it. Stafford, who came in roughly halfway through the second quarter, was replaced by veteran Drew Stanton after his touchdown throw, approximately midway through the 3rd. He finished 7 of 14 for 114 yards and 1 TD, 1 INT. He was considerably better than his numbers would indicate, losing at least 35 yards in drops.
Posted on: April 25, 2009 6:52 pm
The Falcons addressed their need for a defensive tackle with Peria Jerry, putting Miami on the clock.
The Dolphins have needs at pass rusher (OLB), cornerback and wide receiver. Given the way this mock has gone, I'd be surprised by a receiver pick here. I've been told the Dolphins are not as high on Clay Matthews as many have suggested.
A. Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC
B. Clay Matthews, OLB, USC
C. Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
D. Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut
E. Paul Kruger, DE, Utah
The Dolphins are quite high on Utah defensive end Paul Kruger and could take him here, as well. Most teams view him as a 2nd round pick.
The Dolphins took Davis... who I projected to go one pick later -- 26th overall to the Ravens in my final mock.
The Patriots are now on the clock. They, like the Dolphins, have needs at CB and OLB. Matthews and Butler are possibilities. Don't be surprised by a Beanie Wells or Donald Brown selection, either.
Posted on: April 25, 2009 6:40 pm
The Falcons are on the clock and word I've heard is that they're split on CB Darius Butler and DTs Ziggy Hood and Peria Jerry.
I believe the pick will be Hood, whose size and work ethic impressed the Falcons' staff.
Posted on: April 23, 2009 5:12 pm
According to multiple sources throughout the league, he is actively looking to trade out of the 3rd overall pick with the hopes of acquiring a mid to late first round or picks throughout the second round as compensation.
The likelihood that he'll be able to trade out of the 3rd pick, however, is slim, meaning that running back Larry Johnson, guard Brian Waters and the rest of the Chiefs' 2009 picks could be up for auction.
Don't be surprised if Pioli even turns around the 2010 2nd round selection he received from the Falcons to get back into the 2nd round this year. The Chiefs, of course, previously gave up their 2nd round pick, the 34th overall for quarterback Matt Cassel.
As it stands now, the Chiefs have two picks in the first three rounds: the 3rd and 67th.
I have a feeling that somehow Pioli will manage to get another pick between these two by Saturday afternoon...