Parsing words on Stafford
The NFL draft is still three months away, plenty of time to parse every word spoken or written about the Lions and the No. 1 pick.
One tidbit I found interesting came from Peter King's always thorough Monday Morning Quarterback column on SportsIllustrated.com. King asked former Browns general manager Phil Savage to provide some insight on all things Senior Bowl. From Savage:
First pick in the draft? If it's Detroit, and Jim Schwartz is talking about Bobby Layne, and the offensive coordinator is Scott Linehan, who wants a big, strong-thrower, I'd say the big strong QB with a strong arm would be the pick. Matthew Stafford is big and throws the ball so well. It's a pretty easy guess.
Don't go betting the house on Stafford in Honolulu blue just yet, but this is the same Savage who the Lions wanted for their front-office opening (and the same Savage who has resisted overtures according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer). Savage knows Schwartz well from their days in Cleveland, and he's dead on about Linehan's taste in quarterback.
Now the contrarian viewpoint, Lions general manager Martin Mayhew has final say on all things draft. He was asked a week and a half ago about Schwartz's Layne comment and the commonly-held NFL belief (shared by the new Lions coach) that quarterback is the trump-card position in football.
I think it's an extremely important position but I don't think you have to have Bobby Layne or Peyton Manning, Mayhew said. You have to have a guy who's playing very efficiently and a guy who's being very productive to have a chance to win. You have guys like Brad Johnson who go to a Super Bowl and win it. You have guys like Rex Grossman a couple years ago in a Super Bowl. You have guys who are not known as perennial Pro Bowlers or Hall of Famers, but they perform at a high level. It's how that guy's performing.
When pointed out he's championing a temporary solution not guaranteed success for the long term Johnson missed the playoffs a year after leading Tampa Bay to its championship, and Grossman has made eight starts in the two years since his Super Bowl XLI appearance Mayhew said, That's the counter argument to it. To me, you have to have a guy that's performing at a high level.