| Some headline-material draft nuggets as we count down inside of 10 days until the NFL's annual pick-fest:|
*Far and wide it's being suggested that the Detroit Lions have locked in on Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford as the No. 1 overall pick, but I believe that's overstating the case. There's still some divergence of opinion among Detroit Lions decision-makers on the wisdom of taking the somewhat inconsistent Stafford at No. 1, but for the first time this draft season, I'm hearing from league sources who say Detroit, in all likelihood, will select Stafford over Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith and Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry.
To be clear, the decision to go with Stafford is no slam dunk. Pre-draft contract negotiations could still impact the pick significantly, and there are those within the Lions front office who are understandably worried about taking another "savior" at quarterback after the
Joey Harrington error/era. Then again, committing $40 million in guarantees in a bad economy would make anyone a little queasy.
While sources tell me that Stafford is the Lions' top choice, it seems pretty clear that they're definitely not going ga-ga over the guy. Different people like him to different degrees within the organization. It would make me a bit nervous if I were a Detroit fan, because given what's at stake at the very top of the draft these days, you really should be head over heels in love with your guy at No. 1.
* Teams have a real decision to make in regards to Florida receiver Percy Harvin. First, there's the whole Florida receiver/draft bust thing. Second, while no one at the NFL team level seems to yet have the results of the drug testing that took place at February's scouting combine, I've been told by one club official that Harvin has admitted he smoked pot as recently as January. If there's a prospect whose draft slot has a high degree of volatility that could result in him possibly slipping from the middle to the bottom of the first round, it's the ex-Gator.
* We all love first-round trades, and I agree with the assessment of NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock on the factors that could influence them this year: Teams trying to move up to take the second or third highest rated quarterbacks (probably USC's Mark Sanchez and Kansas State's Josh Freeman); teams eager to land the round's fourth-best offensive tackle (probably Ole Miss's Michael Oher) after the top three are gone in the first eight or so picks; and teams motivated by scenarios in which top-five players such as Michael Crabtree or Aaron Curry linger to the No. 7, No. 8 or No. 9 range.
* I've said it before, but it bears repeating: If Stafford doesn't wind up being the Lions' choice at No. 1, don't be shocked if Sanchez goes before him, to teams like No. 4 Seattle, No. 8 Jacksonville or No. 10 San Francisco. There are a number of clubs that have the ex-Trojan higher on their boards than the ex-Bulldog. (Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)