Franchise QB? Yes Please

There are several mock drafts going around the internet and television, and a few have the Jaguars linked to a quarterback with their eighth overall pick. Although the top quarterback in the draft isn't likely to fall to pick #8, anything can happen on draft day. And if you don't believe me, ask Brady Quinn. Find out more about who the Jaguars could be selecting at number eight.

One of the many players that the Jacksonville Jaguars have taken an active interest in has been Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford. The 6'3", 228 lb. gunslinger is widely regarded as the top signal caller in this draft, and although the Detroit Lions have a desperate need at the position, there's a strong possibility that they can go in a different direction due to the strength of Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry, and the economic ramifications that a quarterback selected first overall could have on a team if he doesn't work out.

Stafford has an absolute cannon for an arm, and he can easily make all the throws on the football field. Although he declined to throw at the NFL Combine a few weeks ago, he still managed to impress several coaches, scouts, and GM's with his knowledge and command of the game of football. This attribute has some comparing him to former Boston College and now Atlanta Falcons quarterback, Matt Ryan, who helped former Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Smith turn a seemingly wrecked franchise around as a rookie.

"It's interesting because their offenses are very different," Michigan State linebackers coach Mike Tressel said as he compared the two quarterbacks. Tressel and his Spartans defense played both teams in consecutive years in the Champs Sports and Capital One Bowls. "Both of them have the ability to move in the pocket a little bit. Both of them have the ability to look you off, where they look one way and then throw another. They can throw from off-balance. They can make accurate passes when there's pressure and hits to be taken. But the offenses are different because of the vertical passing game that Georgia has. Boston College spread it out a little bit more. Ryan dinked it, dunked it, hit flat routes, things like that. The offenses are different, but their ability to make throws under duress is what's similar."

Although nobody will confuse Matt Stafford's scrambling ability with that of former Pro Bowler, current felon Michael Vick, Stafford can move around well enough in the pocket to avoid a pass rush.

"I think a lot of the credit should go to him," Tressel said when asked about Stafford's mobility. "He does a good job of feeling pressure and stepping up in the pocket. He's not necessarily going to take off and run, but he can buy himself a couple more seconds on just about every play. I've been in a situation where the offensive line has only given up a few sacks, and they deserve a lot of credit, but the quarterback deserves a lot of that credit as well…He can make the throw when he doesn't necessarily have the time to step up into it, when he's off-balance, when he's going one way and then sliding another way, he can make accurate throws in all of those situations."

Stafford and his Georgia Bulldogs began the 2008 season as the top ranked team in the country, but they fell victim to massive injuries and inflated expectations. Still, Matt was able to lead his team to another double-digit victory season which he is very proud of.

"We battled this year, have had some tough injuries and some tough games throughout," Stafford said following the Bulldogs Capital One Bowl victory over Michigan State. "Just to watch those guys bounce back and get that tenth win for these seniors is awesome. It's great to be a part of a team that wins ten games in the Southeastern Conference because of how tough it is week in and week out. It's great to win your bowl game and go in with some momentum to the next year. We are excited about it."

If all the pieces fall right, Stafford may be able to take some of that momentum he spoke about with him to Jacksonville. Although Matt has expressed a desire to play in Detroit for the winless Lions, many believe that his statements were somewhat less than sincere and mostly financially motivated, but really, who can blame him?

Coming out after just his junior season, Stafford still has some inconsistencies to his game and will probably be better served by sitting during his rookie season. He would be able to do so in Jacksonville as the team already has a veteran quarterback in David Garrard, and a solid backup in Cleo Lemon. With Jacksonville being located not that far from Georgia's campus in Athens, the selection of Stafford could possibly pump some much needed life into the ticket sales department of the Jaguars.

Even if the team didn't see a revenue increase from selecting Stafford, they would still have a franchise quarterback to build around for the first time in a long time.


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