Lions fans want Curry; I still think it's going to be Stafford
Let there be no doubt who Lions fans want with the No. 1 overall pick. At a press conference to introduce their new logo Monday, the several hundred fans in attendance broke into two notable cheers in support of drafting Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry Cur-ry, Cur-ry and Don't draft Staf-ford.
A Lions spokesperson opened the press conference at Dunham's in Madison Heights by reminding the assembled media of a pre-draft press conference scheduled for Tuesday.
One fan yelled, Is it about Stafford?
Then came the first chorus of, Cur-ry, Cur-ry. Then another. And on and off throughout the press conference.
When Lions president Tom Lewand addressed the crowd, he said he was going to pretend like fans were chanting “Bar-ry” for Hall-of-famer Barry Sanders.
Later, after Lewand welcomed a handful of kids on stage for a free T-shirt giveaway amid more Curry cheers, fans protested the possibility of the Lions drafting Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford with a 10-second rendition of, “Don't draft Staf-ford.”
After the presentation, Lewand talked with reporters and gave no indication that Curry would be the pick. He didn't say he wouldn't, but I walked away feeling even stronger the Lions will take Stafford No. 1 overall.
“I think they are engaged and that is great," Lewand said. "To me it's wonderful that they want us to improve, they want us to get better on the field. They recognize that there are a couple different ways we can go in doing that, and those are the things we've been talking about since Day 1.
"We're looking forward to this weekend as much or more than they are and are very confident that we're going to make the kind of selections that time will demonstrate are the right ones for building the core of this franchise."
Asked whether the Curry supporters will be happy or disappointed, Lewand said: "Our sincere hope is that they're going to be very happy, not only this weekend but more importantly a year from now, two years from now, three years from now when the people that we select this weekend are part of the cornerstone of the franchise that we're confident they'll become."
Linebacker Ernie Sims, one of five players on hand Monday to model the new uniforms said he heard the fans chanting for Curry and hopes that's the direction the Lions go in the draft.
"I had no problem with that," he said. "I'm actually kind of rooting for that also. He can only make us better, that's how I see it."
One final comment from Lewand that speaks to why I still think the Lions will make Stafford the pick. Asked if he was surprised at the overwhelming support for Curry among fans, Lewand said, "I think what's important for us is that we listen to our scouts and our coaches and the people who have done the work and watched the tape on these guys, whether they're quarterbacks or defensive linemen or offensive linemen.
"We've had people who know the game of football watching every game of their collegiate careers, doing a lot of work behind the scenes, off the field, the comprehensive evaluation that's necessary to give us the best chance to make the right pick for our organization and regardless of what the immediate opinion is – it's this time of year where everybody goes back and looks back at what grades somebody got two years ago, three years ago, four years ago, and the people who got A-plusses have nobody left in the league and the people who got C-minuses have five Pro Bowlers - to us it's that long-term view that's the most important thing. Short-term is important, too, but making sure that foundation of your franchise is built, and to do that you have to listen to those coaches and those scouts and the personnel people who have put in the work that's required to make the best judgement possible."