Top Prospects: Stafford Still Needs to Throw


*In the weeks leading up to the NFL Draft, scheduled for April 25-26, will take a look at the top collegiate prospects from each position group.

Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford knows that he is putting a lot at stake for March 19.

That is when his school's Pro Day is scheduled and the moment when he will officially showcase the golden arm that has many NFL coaches and scouts labeling him the best quarterback in this year's draft.

Stafford made the risky decision to not throw at the NFL Scouting Combine in late February, instead putting all of his footballs in that March 19 basket.

"It was a decision that I came up with, and I talked it over with my agent," Stafford said. "He thought it was a good idea.

"I'm going to throw 50, 55 balls and do kind of what everybody expects in a Pro Day workout. I'll take care of it then."

There, Stafford will hope to solidify his status of going to the Detroit Lions first-overall in April and separate himself from USC's Mark Sanchez.

The former Bulldog thinks he deserves it, and a strong body of work in Athens, Ga., supports.

Stafford, 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, compiled a 27-7 record as Georgia's starting signal caller, as he threw for over 200 yards in 22 times - including three games over 300 yards and one with more than 400 yards.

As a junior in 2008, Stafford completed 235 of 383 attempts for 3,459 yards, 25 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions.

He shrugs off detractors that say he doesn't have enough experience of a four-year quarterback.

"I cover that by saying I played in 39 football games in college," Stafford explained. "That's a lot of football games, probably more than some seniors have played in. I was actually there for an extra semester. I've been doing this for a while. Obviously I have a lot to learn. It's a whole different ballgame in the NFL.

"But I understand what it takes to prepare and get ready to play early, and I do feel like I have a lot of experience. I played in the SEC, a tough conference, and played against some NFL defensive coaches that are down in that league right now. I've got a little bit of a taste of what it's like, I think."

Regardless of whether the Lions, who recently re-signed Daunte Culpepper and could use the pick on offensive line help, select Stafford at No. 1, it is highly unlikely that he will slide out of the top five slots.

Stafford wants to be ready to play in any situation.

"My philosophy on that is, I want to do everything I can to be as ready as possible to play wherever I go," he stated. "It doesn't matter. If they don't feel that I'm ready to go and I have to sit behind a veteran for a while and maybe learn some of the things that I need to learn, then that's fine.

"But I'm going to make it as hard as I can on coaches to try to keep me off the field. I've always been one to want to get in there and play as soon as I'm ready."

For most NFL hopefuls, the on-field proving began with the Combine. That wasn't the case for Stafford, who only ran and did the bench press at the Indianapolis event.

He will have a private workout for the Lions - and perhaps for other teams among the quarterback-hungry high picks - but there will still be a lot of eyes on his Georgia Pro Day.

There, Stafford will really be able to show teams that his arm was worth waiting to see.

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