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What happens if the Lions don't take Stafford with the first pick?

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Posted March 12, 2009 @ midnight
Updated Oct. 06, 2010 @ 7:26 p.m.
By Eric Edholm

This is a critical week for Georgia QB Matthew Stafford, who now has visited with Lions officials at the team's facility -- the second time the two sides have met up in the past few months, the first being at the Combine.

Georgia QB Matthew StaffordOn March 18, Stafford will throw at his Pro Day in Athens, and the Lions are sure to send a good portion of their cognescenti -- at least GM Martin Mayhew and head coach Jim Schwartz for sure -- to watch.

Here's guessing that Stafford puts on a show. That's what he does well: throw the football in a controlled environment. The questions people have on him -- questionable decision-making and poor reads, performing in big games -- are not likely to be answered in the temperature-controlled environment with Stafford throwing against a defense of air.

The Lions have not made a decision yet of who they will draft with the top pick. It could be Stafford certainly -- but what happens if he isn't the choice? What then? Let's go down the list a bit ...

2. St. Louis: Not taking a quarterback.
3. Kansas City: Just traded for one.
4. Seattle: Not happening.
5. Cleveland: Not terribly likely, although Eric Magini reportedly isn't nuts about Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn.

Who then? Stafford is far from a sure bet in anyone's mind, especially not Detroit's, but I am guessing if the Lions pass him up with that first pick, no other team is going to trade into the top five to draft him. Not at a guaranteed $25 million or more.

How about the next few teams in line?

6. Cincinnati: Not with Carson Palmer.
7. Oakland: Not with JaMarcus Russell.
8. Jacksonville: Nope. But this would be the first place a trade could happen, I suppose, now that they have a left tackle.
9. Green Bay: No, sir.
10. San Francisco: Now here we go ...

The 49ers are the first team in my mind who would be a real possibility. I don't have any inside information on this, but I am guessing the 49ers would fall all over themselves be very interested if Stafford fell to them. Heck, the word is that they are considering Mark Sanchez with the 10th pick.

Other needs do exist for the team. I would think a top tackle might tempt them at 10, as would a premiere pass rusher. And even with Shaun Hill and Alex Smith (at less money) back, I would not rule out a quarterback there.

And if you're into this kind of thing, Stafford would stand to lose at least $15 million guaranteed. He had better charm those Lions folks some more. 

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