After four months of speculation, the Detroit Lions have officially announced what many expected them to, and that is the signing of University of Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, thereby making the junior the first pick in the 2009 NFL draft. The Lions will make this official shortly after 4 p.m. Eastern time this afternoon when they hand their card to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Stafford and the Lions reached an agreement late last night on a six-year contract worth $72 million, with $41.7 million guaranteed, the most guaranteed money handed out this offseason. This deal could reach as much as $78 million if Stafford reaches the incentive requirements in the contract. Nonetheless, the former Bulldog is the seventh quarterback in the last nine years to be the first name called on draft day, not to mention the second SEC quarterback to go No. 1 in three years (JaMarcus Russell was taken first overall by the Raiders in 2007) and the second consecutive quarterback named Matt to be the first passer off the draft board, following Matt Ryan, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback who led his team to the playoffs last year and was named Offensive Rookie of the Year for his efforts.
The Stafford selection also stabilizes the top of the draft, as St. Louis is now expected to draft a tackle with the second pick, choosing from either Baylor's Jason Smith or Virginia's Eugene Monroe. The Chiefs are more than likely going with Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry in the third spot, with Seattle behind them at No. 4, with the likely selection being Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree or USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. If Crabtree is the pick here, the Browns may scoop Sanchez up at No. 5, but expect new Browns coach Eric Mangini to draft a defensive player in that spot.