Stafford makes a strong case with strong throws at Georgia's pro day

ATHENS, Ga. -- Matthew Stafford showed off his strong arm for NFL scouts Thursday, an important step if he wants to realize his dream of being the No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft.

Wyche: Stafford worthy of top pick?

If it were just about any other team, that might be the only question to be answered. But since the failures of Detroit and former general manager Matt Millen made the Lions' approach to the draft appear about as scientific as pin-the-tail-on-the donkey, Matthew Stafford also has to contend with the Lions' draft legacy. More ...

With representatives for each of the 32 NFL teams watching, Stafford completed 45 of his 50 passes to four receivers at the University of Georgia's pro day.

In a script of plays he said he wrote, the quarterback zipped passes to each sideline. He also threw deep routes -- including one completion of at least 50 yards -- and while rolling to his right and left.

The workout was important because Stafford didn't throw at the NFL Scouting Combine last month in Indianapolis.

"I wanted to be able to throw a bunch of balls," Stafford said. "At Indy, you get to throw about 10 to 15, and it was a good chance for me to get out here and throw 50 and let people see."

Stafford didn't give himself a grade but said "I think I did pretty good."

"I missed one or two that I just threw high, but other than that, I think I did well," he said. "This is how well you can throw in your shorts to a guy in a T-shirt with nobody guarding him, so it's important I guess for people to see the physical attributes, but it's not real football."

Stafford is projected by draft analysts as the possible top draft pick by the Detroit Lions. The team had five representatives, including general manager Martin Mayhew, at the workout.

"It was a great workout, a great pro day," said Mayhew, who wouldn't speak specifically about Stafford.

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterbacks coach Mike Shula said he was impressed by Stafford's throws.

"I think he's got a bright mind," Shula said. "I think he's a fast thinker, and I think he has all the tools that an NFL quarterback is going to need to be successful."

The best of the rest

Matthew Stafford was the focal point at Georgia's pro day, but a few other draft prospects were on hand. Not the least of which was RB Knowshon Moreno. More ...

Shula said Stafford's draft status shouldn't be hurt by not throwing at the combine.

"I think, especially with a guy who supposedly has a chance to be a very, very high pick, it's understandable," Shula said. "I think maybe guys down the line need that. We respect all that. Do we want everyone to work out at the combine? Yeah. We respect that, especially with someone who is in the position he's in."

Stafford was the star of Thursday's workout, but he isn't the only Georgia player expected to be picked in the first round. Knowshon Moreno, who could be the first running back taken in the draft, also attracted much attention while posting times of 4.60 and 4.63 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

"This atmosphere is not really as stressful as the combine," Moreno said. "It was good to get here and be with your teammates. It's more relaxed, but it's still a work day."

Georgia wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and cornerback Asher Allen also are projected as possible picks on the first day of the draft.

Even with all the NFL executives on the Georgia practice fields, Moreno noted that Stafford still looked calm.

"He's always relaxed," Moreno said. "He's not feeling any pressure. He knows what his capabilities are."

Said Stafford: "It's been about what I expected. It's crazy, but it's a lot of fun, too."

Stafford said he wouldn't worry about being drafted by a Detroit team that didn't win a game last season, and he already has visited with the Lions.

"I think it'd be an honor to be able to be picked No. 1, and also, I want to get a chance to turn something around," he said. "It'd be a heck of a place for me to be able to go."

When asked what he can bring to an NFL team, Stafford gave a quick response: "A guy who is physically gifted and mentally as well, and I'm a guy that they know what they're getting. I'm going to be the same every day, no matter what's going on around me, and that's accountable."

Stafford was a three-year starter at Georgia before bypassing his senior year to enter the draft. He completed 235 of 383 passes (61.4 percent) for 3,459 yards with a school-record 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and was 27-7 as a starter in his career.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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