Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Franchise Prospects... Matt Stafford

The first in our new weekly series 'Franchise Prospects' takes a look at Georgia quarter back Matt Stafford and what he would bring to the Seahawks franchise if drafted on April 25th. Consensus opinion has the former Bulldog going to the Detroit Lions with the first overall pick, but if he slips through the net he could be an option for a Seattle team 'in the zone' for a long term option at the most important position in football.

Name: Matt Stafford
Team: Georgia
Major: Sports Communication
High School: Highland Park High School
D.O.B: February 7th 1988
Birthplace: Tampa, Florida
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 225 lbs
Career stats: 7731 passing yards, 51 touchdowns, 33 interceptions
Biggest Achievement: Capital One Bowl 2009 MVP

Ask anyone about Matthew Stafford and the first thing you're likely to hear about is that huge arm. Make no mistake - this is a guy who can make all the throws and will no doubt have plenty of admirers in the NFL draft. You'll also hear a lot about his inconsistency and his gunslinger style which has at times led to poor decision making when throwing deep. The second part is particularly unfair on Stafford who actually has a solid short game and would, perhaps surprisingly to some, suit the west coast offense.

I've seen comparisons to Jay Cutler and Donovan McNabb, two quarter backs who have played in hybrid WCO's. If prepared correctly, I have no doubt that Stafford can have the same kind of success in the NFL. It will help that he's coming from a pro-style offense at Georgia and his stat line is impressive considering the issues they had on the offensive line in 2008. A total of 25 TD's for 10 interceptions and a 153.54 passer rating could be enough to warrant consideration as the No.1 pick.

Expert analysis: Kyle Rota, College Talent Scout

"Stafford is an immensely talented quarterback. He is a shade under 6′3 but is a stocky guy with the build to withstand punishment. As a quarterback coach, you don’t have to worry about his mechanics at all. He has a quick delivery and strides into his throws to get maximum explosion. He might need a little more work on touch passes but shows potential there. He has a strong understanding of the playbook and is trusted to audible out of a play if he sees something in the defense.

"Stafford is a quarterback who grows on you because of his toughness and clutch play. The dynamite arm strength is readily apparent, and even if he does not improve at all he will have one of the stronger arms in the NFL. He has a ton of potential, and whoever drafts him will be taking a gamble that he achieves his potential. My projection is based on the assumption that he heads to a situation where he is groomed responsibly and fulfills his potential, as his flaws - deep reads, gunslinger mentality, and jitters - stand a good chance of being worked out by a quality quarterback teacher." - Kyle Rota

To read Kyle Rota's full scouting report on Matt Stafford, click here.

So what would Stafford bring to the Seattle Seahawks in terms of that franchise quality prospect? For starters, he wouldn't be pressured into starting from day one. He'd have plenty of time to learn the playbook and develop as a quarter back and as an adult under the tutorship of Greg Knapp and Matt Hasselbeck. The history books don't lie - underclassmen quarter backs regularly struggle in the NFL. Having that extra bit of time to learn his trade could make all the difference for Stafford.

Of course, considering the financial implications, the team would be under tremendous pressure to start him sooner rather than later. Last year Matt Ryan received a $72m contract with $34.75m in guarantees. Taking Stafford fourth overall could potentially lead to a similar, if not bigger contract. The writing would be on the wall for the Matt Hasselbeck era and that's something the team would have to manage as they look to hit back from a 4-12 season.

Stafford first overall? Rob Rang's mock draft

What do you think of Matt Stafford? Have a question about the Georgia quarter back? Click the 'comments' link to have your say.

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