Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Point Counterpoint: Matt Stafford

by: Chris Sullivan

Over the past week or so, it has become increasingly likely that the Seahawks will have a stab at drafting Matthew Stafford. Rumors out of Detroit are pointing to them drafting Jason Smith or Eugene Monroe at #1 overall and likely trading up out of the 20th spot to grab Josh Freeman to be their franchise quarterback (few expect him to drop to 20 with the Jets reportedly head over heels for the guy). Despite the guy almost everyone had pegged at #1 overall potentially dropping to #4, a lot of us Addicts have been skeptical and unexcited about the prospect of drafting Stafford. Why? I've got a few guesses.

1.) Excitement about Crabtree. I think a lot of us have had our hearts set on Crabtree since we locked down the #4 pick. He is exciting and enticing as he appears to have the same potential of a Larry Fitzgerald or an Andre Johnson.

Counterpoint: It appears that Crabtree may not be as bright as had been hoped and, while he is an excellent receiver who will, I think, be a force for the next decade or so in the league, he needs someone to throw to him to be of use. Will we have that in Year Three when he likely hits his stride?

2.) Allegiance to Hasselbeck. If we draft a QB at the #4 overall pick, the assumption is that he will be playing sooner rather than later. Fans in Seattle, present company definitely included, love Matt Hasselbeck. He's a Pro Bowl QB when healthy and one of the best characters in professional sports. We've also had the opportunity to see him mature from a cocky but not always bright QB to a true leader for this franchise. It's hard to watch that go.

Counterpoint: Regarding the instant-play situation, the last QB taken at #4 overall was Philip Rivers in 2004. He sat for two years under Drew Brees before finally being promoted to starter. In 2006, his first year as a starter, he went to the Pro Bowl (he was also on a fantastic team in LT's best year, but I digress). Stafford sitting for one or two years is not unprecedented -- for a long time, this was commonplace for a rookie QB. There is more pressure to get a top-five pick playing, but since when does that affect what the Seahawks do? Hass is going to be 34 this year and, while I think he will be a great player for at least one more year, there's no denying that his clock is ticking. Drafting Stafford now could help us avoid a big drop-off when he finally does go.

3.) Stafford is just not that good. This one is also pretty commonplace recently. People seem to believe that just because he is the best QB in the draft (most likely) many out there have inflated his value. Where would he be drafted if Bradford and McCoy (that should be a cop show) had declared? Remember, when people thought they were declaring, Stafford was still typically rated #1.

Counterpoint: Stafford is considered, at least by, one of the two elite prospects in the draft (along with Aaron Curry). He is mobile, athletic, has good accuracy and a great arm. He's a bit of a gunslinger so he'll throw some picks but that can be fixed; he also lacks prototypical size at a hair under 6'3", but that hasn't proven to be an impediment in the SEC. Stafford started all three years at Georgia and led the team to a 27-7 record in that time.

Could Stafford be a bust? Of course. Anyone can bust. For every Larry Fitzgerald or Peyton Manning story, there's a Marcus Tubbs or Cadillac Williams. The bottom line is, the Seahawks may well get a chance at one of the top athletes in college sports, someone who would lead the team for the next decade. If Stafford drops to us, how do we pass on him? (Note: I'm a recent convert to Staffordism and my views on our draft are still entirely fungible.) ~END~