Why The Detroit Lions Will Draft Mark Sanchez

If you pay attention to the mock drafts, the Detroit Lions most assuredly will take a quarterback at No. 1. The problem? Most have them taking the wrong guy. Find out why RoarReport.com, along with Scout.com draft analyst Chris Steuber, insist Detroit will go with Mark Sanchez.

Mock drafts would be pointless if they weren't so darn entertaining. In the days and hours leading up to April's version of shooting craps, most teams haven't figured out their strategy, let alone analysts and armchair experts.

The phrase 'take it with grain of salt' simply doesn't do it justice.

Unless, of course, you're projecting the first overall pick.

According to our very cool Mock Draft Muncher, experts are almost unanimously predicting that the Lions will pick a quarterback.

After restructuring the contract of Daunte Culpepper, the Detroit Lions will more than likely part ways with veteran Jon Kitna in the next week. Coupled with the team's reluctance to give third-year player Drew Stanton a shot at quarterback, and willingness to let Dan Orlovsky test the free-agent waters, at least lends credence to the very strong presumption the team will go QB with its No. 1 overall pick.

The problem? They just might be projecting the wrong guy.

No. 1? Not so fast. Stafford isn't the only quarterback with first-pick aspirations.
Matthew Stafford (Mike Zarrilli/Getty)

While Georgia's Matthew Stafford is the popular pick, Scout.com's Chris Steuber - who attended this past weekend's NFL combine - is one of the few experts that sees the Lions take a different signal caller.

And he makes a pretty compelling argument.

"I just got done watching (Mark) Sanchez workout and I just don't understand some of the negative feedback I'm reading," wrote Steuber in an e-mail to RoarReport.com. "He was the smoothest in his drop back (Stephen McGee also looked good). He set up quickly and high, displayed good mechanics, delivered the ball with touch, and hit receivers in stride on intermediate routes and deep patterns.

"He missed on a couple of occasions and threw the ball behind receivers here and there, but he didn't do anything that suggests he won't be a franchise type of quarterback. I think some of the balls he missed on were more of a timing issue with the receivers and not necessarily on him.

"The Combine in a lot of ways is over hyped. It's great to see the players up-close and get their track and field numbers, but it's more for the NFL teams to evaluate the player's mental approach, personality and physical prowess.

Sanchez has more potential than Stafford, claims Chris Steuber. And with time to sit and learn in Detroit, he might be the best fit for the Lions.
Mark Sanchez (Harry How/Getty)

"The numbers are great and for us in the media the Combine gives us something to talk about. But to truly evaluate these guys, it comes down to what they did on Saturday that will prove their worth on Sunday. And, if you watched Sanchez throughout the year, he got better in every start.

Not only is he a talented player, but he has a high football IQ and impressed all the teams he met with on the board; most notably the Detroit Lions.

"I'm told that the Lions loved him."

Steuber, who last year outscored any other national draft analyst by a wide range according to the FantasySportsDrafts.com web site, is correct. Most teams use the Combine as a mental barometer, and Sanchez's charisma and demeanor have certainly been impressive.

Another note that Steuber made in defense of projecting Sanchez over Stafford is this: Stafford's biggest positive is that he's supposedly "NFL ready," despite a reputation for turning the ball over. Many scouts also consider Stafford a finished product, whereas Sanchez has only started one year, can already run an offense efficiently, and thus has more upside.

Culpepper will likely be the team's starter in 2009, a solution that's short-term, if anything. The Lions are well aware that they aren't going to be contenders in 2009, leaving fertile ground for the opportunity to groom a young quarterback under offensive coordinator Scott Linehan's tutelage.

And that quarterback will be Mark Sanchez.

Or so we think.

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