ESPN’s re-draft disrespects Matthew Stafford by picking several unproven passers before him
One of the biggest issues plaguing the Detroit Lions in recent years has been a perceived lack of overall talent on the roster. And the team’s poor record over the past two seasons under head coach Matt Patricia has only served to cement that idea in the hearts and minds of many NFL fans outside of the Motor City.
But the Lions can begin to change those narratives by winning. That would be made much easier if some of their younger players can have breakout performances this upcoming season. One of those youngsters is Detroit’s first-round selection from this year, Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah.
Chosen as the third overall pick in the first round, Okudah was considered the best prospect at his position and he became the highest selected cornerback in the draft since 1997. He possesses the size and elite abilities as a defender to become an All-Pro on his rookie contract according to The Draft Network’s Benjamin Solak.
Despite not playing a single snap as a professional yet, Okudah was still recently selected as part of ESPN’s NFL Nation re-draft. Several of their reporters became fantasy general managers and were tasked with selecting four players out of the NFL’s entire player pool for each team (128 picks total) with the goal of winning a Super Bowl within the next five years.
Okudah was selected 133th overall by the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth round. That was two spots before his teammate, wide receiver Kenny Golladay, was taken by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Former Lions cornerback Darius Slay, who was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles by Detroit this offseason, was taken 94th overall by the Green Bay Packers.
Re-draft sees Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford selected 28th overall
The only other member of the Lions to be selected in this 128-pick re-draft by ESPN was quarterback Matthew Stafford. And while the veteran passer was selected in the first round, 28th overall by the Baltimore Ravens, the quarterbacks drafted before him were perplexing and downright disrespectful.
Prior to the selection of Stafford, unproven passers like Drew Lock of the Denver Broncos, Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals, Teddy Bridgewater of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns, Ryan Tannehill of the Tennessee Titans, and Sam Darnold of the New York Jets were chosen ahead of the longtime Lions quarterback.
While still only 32-years old, Stafford is entering his 12th season in the NFL. And he’s coming off an injury-plagued season where he was limited to just eight games. Combined with the fact he has yet to win a playoff game in his entire career in Detroit, and you can understand why Stafford’s status league-wide might be somewhat low.
But prior to his back injury last season, Stafford was putting up stellar numbers. He recorded 2,499 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, and just five interceptions in his first year under new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
Stafford also led Detroit to a 2-1-1 record before their Week Five bye last season, going toe-to-toe with the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs the week prior in a last minute 34-30 loss. The Lions failed to win a single game without Stafford under center in 2019, proving just how important he is to the team.
Before the arrival of Patricia in 2018, Stafford had posted three-winning seasons under head coach Jim Caldwell which included two playoff berths. He was also a Pro Bowl selection in 2014. The bottom line is Stafford deserves more respect than he receives. And this re-draft only further proves that point.
The fact ESPN’s NFL Nation reporters would choose to select numerous unproven passers over Matthew Stafford illustrates just how far the Detroit Lions have fallen in the minds of those outside the Motor City. And the only thing that’s going to change that unfortunate narrative is winning.