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Posted Nov. 5, 2008

Matt Stafford - a Top-Five NFL Draft Pick?

Matt Stafford came into the 2008 season with the Dark Knight-esque hype. He was the second coming of Carson Palmer and JaMarcus Russell with his jaw-dropping arm strength. The Georgia Bulldogs finished the 2007 season 11-2 with a dominating Sugar Bowl victory. Many thought they were the best team in the country even after LSU's championship victory.

I was not sold on Stafford. I saw a quarterback on game film with mediocre accuracy and decision-making. I did not see a great leader or any signs of urgency from him to win a game.

In only four games did Stafford complete more than 61 percent of his passes. He only averaged 7.4 yards per pass attempt (YPA). His touchdown to interception ratio was 19:10 - not impressive. He ranked 61st in the country for pass attempts, relying on the Georgia defense and Knowshon Moreno to win games for him.

I knew how high his potential was; I just wanted him to step up his game and play like a quarterback worthy of a No. 1 pick.

Well, from time to time, every draftnik changes his mind.

I am now a believer that Matt Stafford is a top-five pick next April in the 2009 NFL Draft. Let me go over the reasons to explain myself:

1. Through his first eight games in 2007, Stafford averaged 6.06 YPA. This season, he has raised that to 8.5 YPA. He is making more plays in the passing game and being more of a reason for Georgia winning games. Georgia is ranked 39th in the country in rushing offense. Stafford has led this team to some big wins over South Carolina, Arizona State, Vanderbilt and LSU.

2. Franchise quarterbacks are viewed as extremely valuable on Draft Day, especially by new coaching regimes. If Joe Flacco out of Delaware is traded up for in the first round, then I cannot deny that some team is going to take Stafford in the top five, but more likely the top three picks. Despite Stafford's weaknesses, in the end I believe they will be overlooked because of his extremely high upside and ...

3. ...the lack of quarterback talent in the 2009 NFL Draft. There is no one in the senior class worth mentioning. I currently do not have a grade on any senior higher than the fourth round. It's pathetic.

I do not see Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy, Josh Freeman or Mark Sanchez declaring for 2009. I will blog about that soon. With no projected starter outside of Stafford in 2008, his draft value becomes even higher.

4. More teams than usual drafting high are in need of a franchise quarterback. In the 2008 NFL Draft, only Baltimore and Atlanta were desperately lacking a future at the position. Detroit, Kansas City and San Francisco have nothing at quarterback. Seattle might even consider drafting Stafford with Matt Hasselbeck turning 34 soon. With three definite teams desperate for a franchise signal caller that will be drafting in the top six, Stafford is highly unlikely to fall. Also, the fact that there are no other quarterbacks in this draft, as I previously mentioned, means that Stafford's value goes up even more. It is a matter of supply and demand. There is a low supply of quarterbacks, and a very strong demand for franchise signal callers.

The college football insiders are saying that Stafford is a sure thing to bolt for the draft this year so there goes my theory of him staying for his senior year like Brady Quinn and Matt Leinart.

I know he just had a three-interception performance against Florida, but I do not think this will affect his stock much for reasons previously stated.

This does not have anything to do really with my opinion or grade on Stafford. Granted, I grade him higher than I did in the preseason because he has been more productive, but I still want to see a monster game (300-plus yards, three-plus touchdowns, one or less interceptions) and more urgency with his leadership like Matt Ryan at B.C.

Currently, I am giving Stafford my first-round/4-star grade.

Matt McGuire's Recent NFL Draft Blog Entries:

Analyzing Andrew Luck's Decision - 1/7
Luck vs. Locker - 9/15
Top 10 Quarterback Busts - 7/7
NBA Draft vs. NFL Draft - 6/27
Six Sophomores Who Need to Step Up - 6/2
Kentucky 2010 NBA Draft Prospect Blog - 6/1
Brett Favre Retirement Conditions - 5/30
2010 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year - 5/24
2010 NFL Power Rankings Tier - 5/21
2010 NFL Power Rankings - 5/18
NFL Mailbag: C.J. Spiller and Buffalo Bills Reaction - 5/14
LeBron James Game 6 Reaction - 5/14
The Buffalo Bills - 5/13
LeBron James: Celtic Pride - 5/13
The JaMarcus Russell Lesson - 5/11
Most Productive 2010 NFL Rookies - 5/6
Double Down - 4/30
2010 NFL Draft Observations and Telecast Blog - 4/26
2010 NFL Draft Grades: Day 3 - 4/25
2010 NFL Draft Grades: Rounds 1-3 - 4/24
2010 NFL Draft Grades: First Round - 4/23
2010 NFL Draft Trade Analysis - 4/23
Random Round 1 Thoughts and Analysis - 4/23
2010 NFL Draft Class Predictions - 4/22
2010 NFL Draft Trades - 4/21
Response to Mike Mayock's Redskins-Trent Williams Comment - 4/8
Teams Misevaluating Their Own Quarterbacks - 4/6
Where Will Jimmy Clausen Go? - 4/5
2010 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Picks - 3/25
Gerald McCoy's Draft Range - 3/12
NFL Draft Picks Are Business Investments (Anthony Davis) - 3/11
Offense Matters - 3/9
Mel Kiper vs. Todd McShay Debate Revisited - 3/8
Taylor Mays - 3/3
"He's a Winner" ... Not Really - 3/2
Quarterback Height (Jimmy Clausen) - 2/25
The Top Five Reasons the Redskins Won't Pass on Jimmy Clausen - 2/22
2010 NFL Draft: All-Overhyped and Underrated Teams - 2/18
Matt Ryan and the Rams - 2/17
Prospect Case Study: Tim Tebow - 2/11
2010 NFL Draft Offensive Grades - 1/20
Tim Tebow at the Senior Bowl - 1/14
Junior Quarterbacks/Jimmy Clausen - 12/29
2010 NFL Draft Prospect Updates - 12/21
The Michael Oher Lesson - 12/20
Cameron Heyward's Ceiling - 12/17
Jake Locker to Return for Senior Season - 12/15
Top Four Scenario - 12/8
"Suh" is Elite - 12/7
Carlos Dunlap Update - 11/11
Player to Watch - 10/30
Alpha Quarterback - 10/29
2010 NFL Draft Mailbag - 10/28
O Bradford, Where Art Thou (Draft Stock)? - 10/27
The Trojan Torpedo - 10/26
Quarterback Mobility - 10/23
Charles Brown's Stock on the Rise - 10/18
Mays-Clausen and Gaines Adams - 10/17
Mr. Overrated - 10/14
2010 NFL Draft Cursed? - 10/8
Conservative Carroll - 9/22
The Crabtree Lesson - 9/21
Scouting Notes: Weeks 2-3 - 9/20
Terrelle Pryor - NFL QB? - 9/15
Jay Cutler Trade Evaluation - 9/14
THE Choke State University - 9/13
2009 NFL Predictions - 9/10
2009 College Football Predictions - 9/3
The Brett Favre Line - 8/20
Why Vick Hasn't Signed - 8/12
The Vince Young Lesson - 8/10
Vegas NFL Power Rankings - 8/9
Dorsey Fat - Chiefs Stupid - 8/7
Eli Manning: The $100 Million Man - 8/6
Predicting Future Needs Part II - 8/4
NFL Draft Moved - 7/24
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