Like most Bulldog fans, I’m happy Matthew Stafford got a big payday in the NFL draft and looks set for life financially. Hopefully he’ll generously remember his alma mater in the coming years! But in football terms, his deal with Detroit doesn’t have a lot of upside, as draft mavens like to say.
Aside from the guaranteed money Stafford will put in the bank, there appears to be almost no way either party to the deal will get what they really want and need, based on what folks who follow the Lions say. Barring a complete transformation, chances are the Lions will still be a sucky franchise, and Stafford’s NFL career will get off to a shaky start. It’s unlikely Detroit will get its money’s worth out of Stafford, and unless he can get traded to a decent team, his career isn’t likely to be as successful on the field as it was at the negotiating table.
On the other hand, Knowshon Moreno has good reason to smile after going earlier than expected in the first round to a team that has had a lot of success in the past with Georgia Bulldog running backs. In this case, being No. 1 isn’t everything.
And it was good to see Mohamed Massaquoi go in the second round to the Browns. He deserves it, though you wouldn’t know it from the way I heard him characterized by one of the ESPN “analysts,” who summed him up as prone to dropping the ball. Yeah, MoMass had some trouble with that … in his sophomore year! The past couple of seasons he caught pretty much everything thrown to him and was the Dogs’ clutch guy when they really had to maintain possession. He has a great attitude, too. The Browns got a winner.
As for what this all means for Mark Richt’s program, having the No. 1 pick, two first-round picks, three on the first day, six overall and probably four more Dogs to sign as undrafted free agents … conventional wisdom is that it will be a boost in recruiting. I’m sure that’s true, to a degree. But Georgia’s put a lot of kids in the pros in recent years (46 in the past eight drafts), so that’s not a new factor. And the Dogs’ solid record of turning out future pro tight ends and defensive ends in recent years didn’t prevent a drop-off in NFL-worthy talent at those positions for us over the past couple of years.
Having a bunch of players make it to the next level cuts both ways, too. I’m sure recruiters from other schools will point out that Georgia had all that NFL-caliber talent and still wasn’t able to win the SEC East.
Whether that trumps the fact that Athens seems to be a direct portal to playing on Sunday with a recruit will depend on how much the kid in question values a college championship ring and how much their eyes are locked on the bigger prize.
As fine a career as Stafford had at Georgia, there’s no denying it will pale for Dog fans in comparison to the next quarterback to bring home another SEC trophy. But with his $41 million in the bank, Stafford probably won’t care.