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SB Nation Writers Mock Draft: Round 1, Pick #4

No. 4


Pick by Field Gulls

Matt Stafford


Kicking off the second day of the SB Nation mock draft is John Morgan, one of the most analytical bloggers on all of the SB network. He, of course, runs Field Gulls.

You can’t blame Seahawks fans. Before Matt Hasselbeck, Jim Zorn was unarguably the second best quarterback in franchise history. Zorn was a man of many tricks: A career 53 percent completion percentage, 4.3 ANY/A, 54 fumbles, 111 touchdowns and 141 interceptions. You can’t blame Seahawks fans. Before Matt Hasselbeck, Dave Krieg was unarguably the best quarterback in franchise history. Krieg was least seen beneath the rubble of Mile High Stadium, scrambling for the ball.

You can’t blame Seahawks fans for holding out hope that 33 year old Matt Hasselbeck has plenty left in the tank. Relative to Zorn and Krieg, Hasselbeck is Favrian, Marino-esque. But even Brett Favre and Dan Marino endured decline as they entered their mid- to late-thirties.

From 1991 to 2006, Miami drafted one quarterback: Josh Heupel. As Marino began to decline from 1997 to 1999, the Dolphins refused to believe the good times would ever end. Marino ended his career watching his Dolphins from the sideline. Damon Huard caddied the second half of a 62-7 Division Round blowout courtesy the Jaguars. For the next four years, Miami matched a dominant defense with a sputtering offense led mostly by veteran journeyman Jay Fiedler. It won one playoff game. Stopgap Chad Pennington aside, Miami has yet to adequately replace Marino.

Green Bay drafted Aaron Rodgers in 2005. Favre was fresh off one of, if not the best seasons of his career. In 2004, he led the league in touchdowns and touchdown percentage and had the lowest percentage of passing plays resulting in a sack. He also set a career high in completion percentage, 65.4 percent. Favre looked like a 34-year-old entering an almost unprecedented autumnal peak. In 2005, Green Bay finished 4-12. It was the worst season of Favre’s career. Favre hung around two more seasons, alternately awful and great, but when he finally left, Green Bay wasn’t starting from scratch or scraping together journeymen, former busts and game managers. No, in his first season with the team, playing opposite a broken defense and playing through injury, Rodgers had a season that rivals any in Favre’s career.

For all the notorious risk of drafting a quarterback early in the first, the riskier proposition is assuming you can fill the position through other means. Great quarterback play is the trend-fast model for winning a Super Bowl, and great quarterbacks are historically taken early in the first round. In fact, the first quarterback drafted enjoys many advantages. He averages 6.4 years starting, a full 2.5 years more than the second quarterback drafted, the largest split between picks. He is also 81% likely to be better than the second quarterback drafted.


So, with Hasselbeck barreling toward 34, coming off an injury-riddled 2008, his second truly bad season in the last three years, and the top overall quarterback available at four, one question remains: Is Matthew Stafford a great quarterback prospect? The truth is, no one absolutely knows. He has exceptional tools, has been considered an NFL prospect since high school, played in one of the more pro-friendly offensive systems in college, is brilliant in stretches, but also young, capable of the big lapse, and known for poor decision making. What I can say is that Stafford would not have to start right away. Like Rodgers, he could learn under a skilled veteran. Unlike JaMarcus Russell, Alex Smith, David Carr, Joey Harrington, Tim Couch and Akili Smith, Stafford would not join a dysfunctional team in ruins. Nor would he be expected to save the franchise. And when 2011 rolls around, or even the end of 2010, and Stafford is finally entrusted with the team’s future, he’ll have been given every opportunity to succeed. And should he fail, it’s still better theatre than watching Rudy-Graham Painter and his Traveling Pizzottis.

MTD thoughts: Stafford has as much potential as any player in this draft. This is a solid pick because he'll get to sit behind Hasselbeck for at least a year and learn. Few quarterbacks are better at making in-game decisions than Hasselbeck and that would be a boon for Stafford's career.

However, a couple things make it just a solid selection. Seattle isn't too far away from being a playoff team again. Why not fix up a position more in need? Also, how will Hasselbeck react to a high first-round pick right behind him?

Mocking the Draft's Top Five Remaining Prospects - WR Michael Crabtree, CB Malcolm Jenkins, OT Michael Oher, RB Knowshon Moreno, DE Brian Orakpo