One of the biggest questions going into this draft is which quarterback you would rather have: Matthew Stafford of Georgia or Mark Sanchez of USC? History says that quarterbacks at the top of the draft are a 50-50 proposition. Bet right (a la Peyton Manning), and a team will have its franchise quarterback. Bet wrong (a la Ryan Leaf), and you set your franchise back 3-5 years.
So is it Stafford or Sanchez this year? I smell an outlanidish prediction coming… but after some thoughts.
*Stafford is the more physically gifted quarterback. He has an unbelievable arm and ideal height. Sanchez has a good but not great arm and is a little more mobile. Advantage here goes to Stafford.
*Stafford started two and a half years and got better each year. (2006: 52.7 completion percentage, 7 TD, 13 INT; 2007: 55.7 completion percentage, 19 TD, 10 INT; 2008: 61.4 completion percentage, 25 TD, 10 INT) Sanchez started one year and had a monster year (65.8 completion percentage, 34 TD, 10 INT). So Stafford has an experience advantage, while Sanchez has a minor statistical advantage.
*Stafford played in the SEC, while Sanchez played in the Pac-10. So while Sanchez didn’t play against stiffs, Stafford faced more athletic defenses that are more pro ready. That’s another experience advantge to Stafford.
*ESPN wrote about a stat analysis that says Sanchez is the far better bet. Basically, this complicated formula compared Sanchez to Ben Roethlisberger and Chad Pennington and compared Stafford to Cade McNown and Joey Harrington. (The link is worth a click.)
*When it comes to charisma and leadership, Sanchez seems to ooze locker-room prowess. Stafford isn’t as dynamic, but his declaration that he wants to go to Detroit and turn things around counts for something.
With all that said, my pick would be…
Stafford could end up being a good quarterback, but for some reason I get the feeling that Sanchez will end up with the better pro career. In my mind, he’s more likely to win a Super Bowl and less likely to bust out. I know that banking on a quarterback with only one year of starting experience is a white-knuckle chance to take, but that’s the feeling I can’t shake.
I may be right, and I may be wrong. (Hey, 11 years ago I preferred Leaf to Manning on draft day. This is an inexact science.) But the outlandish prediction is that Sanchez will be a better pro than Stafford.