Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Future of Matt Stafford

by: Chris Sullivan

Where will Stafford land? I personally think he has a high probability of taking a Leinart-slide for some of the reasons that John Morgan touched on in the linked article yesterday. I put the chances of Detroit drafting him still at 70% or so, but I do believe Culpepper will start in 2009. There is a forgotten tradition in the NFL of letting quarterbacks learn the speed of the game behind someone else. While sometimes QBs emerge better off for that -- Peyton Manning had a bad rookie year and has been incredible since -- just as often you see a QB destroyed by this act. David Carr, Charlie Frye, Rick Mirer . . . they all had a lot of promise but were wrecked by the speed of the game and by the fact that they were perhaps not all that great to begin with. Heh.

But I digress! If we assume for a moment that Matt Stafford is not drafted by the Lions, who does he go to? The Rams could make an argument for adding a franchise QB as they enter a rebuilding period with Bulger coming off two statistical disaster years. The Chiefs could also make an argument, though I think Thigpen should get one year to prove himself without a primadonna RB and a washed-up coach. So the question is, do the Seahawks draft Matt Stafford?

I can't imagine a reason why we would. Sure, he's the top QB prospect this year but that's in a year filled with a very shallow field of quarterbacks. Stafford, at the #4 pick, would be getting Matt Ryan money or damn close (Ryan was the third overall pick and signed a 6-year $72 million contract with $37.5 million guaranteed). Say we draft Stafford and sign him to a 5 year $55 million contract (unlikely) -- instantly a rookie is making 2-3 million more than our multiple pro-bowl QB. Yes, I get that Hasselbeck is aging and potentially in decline, but it has long been Matt's pattern to have a great year followed by a lackluster year followed by a great year followed by . . . you get the idea.

There is no reason to blow our wad on a QB in the first round when we could draft (or trade a pick for) a promising QB who needs a year or two to develop in a later round. As I said earlier, I feel that QBs with a bit of time under a stud can really benefit -- who is Matt Hasselbeck without Trent Dilfer (cough, I mean Brett "I ain't a mentor" Favre). Brian Brohm is the obvious pick and the Packers should be happy enough with what they've seen from Rodgers to let Brohm go for a middle-round pick (our early third pick should do it). There are also some dark horses in the draft -- Rhett Bomar (who sounds almost exactly like Hasselbeck as far as his weaknesses go) and Nate Davis come to mind.

While I don't think it makes sense to go for Stafford (or Sanchez), I also don't think Ruskell would do it. Tim Ruskell believes in finding the maximum value for his (owner's) money. I think the ideal situation for him will still be a trade down a few spots as there seems to be very little clear talent at the top of the draft board. Remember, this team, by most people's judgment, does not have many "glaring needs." We have a LOT of question marks. Grabbing BJ Raji at 10 and letting San Fransisco take Sanchez or Stafford? Sure, why not?