Georgia's Stafford goes first overall
NEW YORK -- Matthew Stafford's mission is daunting: Lead the Detroit Lions back from the only 0-16 season in NFL history. Mark Sanchez has nearly as big a challenge: He'll compete to replace Brett Favre.
The Lions found the centerpiece for one of the biggest rebuilding jobs in league history by taking Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford with the top overall selection Saturday. Detroit already had signed the 21-year-old Stafford to a six-year deal with $41.7 million in guarantees and a maximum value of $78 million.
Stafford, who left school a year early, is not expected to start immediately as a rookie.
"I'm a competitive guy," Stafford said. "I'm going to try to get ready as quick as I can.
"I put a lot of pressure on myself to be great anyway."
Then the New York Jets rocked Radio City Music Hall by trading with Cleveland -- and of all people, Eric Mangini, whom they fired as coach in January -- for the fifth overall spot. The Jets took the other premier quarterback in the draft, Sanchez of Southern California.
"I learned how to compete and deal with pressure at 'SC and in a large media market in Los Angeles," Sanchez said of stepping in for the retired Favre, "and things are only going to get bigger and better. It's a very exciting time, a special time in my life, so I'm excited to get things going."
Oddly, both drew plenty of boos and chants of "OVERRATED" to go with the many cheers.
The Lions, whose poor draft history this decade under Matt Millen eventually led to the winless season, have veteran Daunte Culpepper as the projected starter this year under new coach Jim Schwartz. That should give the 21-year-old Stafford a chance to watch and learn.
Coach Jim Schwartz introduces the Lions first day draft picks, and Matthew Stafford talks about competing.
"Now, it's up to us to develop him and get good players around him," Detroit general manager Martin Mayhew said.
Nine of the last 12 top overall picks have been quarterbacks.
The massive trade saw Cleveland send its pick to New York, prompting wild cheering in the arena. When the Jets chose Sanchez, the fans had equally vociferous positive and negative reactions.
Sanchez started for just one season at USC, leading the Trojans to a 12-1 record and a Rose Bowl victory. He had six career starts in college, and will now compete for the job of replacing Brett Favre as the Jets' QB.
2009 NFL draft
The Lions picked Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford No. 1. Here's what the rest of the first round held:
|DET||Matthew Stafford||QB, Georgia|
|STL||Jason Smith||OT, Baylor|
|KC||Tyson Jackson||DE, LSU|
|SEA||Aaron Curry||OLB, Wake Forest|
|NYJ (from CLE)||Mark Sanchez||QB, USC|
|CIN||Andre Smith||OT, Alabama|
|OAK||Darrius Heyward-Bey||WR, Maryland|
|JAC||Eugene Monroe||OT, Virginia|
|GB||B.J. Raji||DT, Boston College|
|SF||Michael Crabtree||WR, Texas Tech||Pick-by-pick|
"With Mark, I think he's a special guy," Jets coach Rex Ryan said.
The Browns pulled off two more trades to keep moving down in the opening round and adding later-round picks. At No. 21, the Browns finally stopped dealing and took center Alex Mack of California. Mack could immediately replace starter Hank Fraley, a nine-year veteran who struggled last season on Cleveland's 31st-ranked offense, a unit which didn't score a touchdown in its final six games.
Before that, Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith was the second pick, by the St. Louis Rams. The 6-foot-4, 306-pound former tight end should be used to playing for a weak team: Baylor was 18-31 in his four years there.
Kansas City, like St. Louis, used nearly all 10 of its minutes seeking a trade before selecting LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson. He will join college teammate Glenn Dorsey on the Chiefs' defensive line.
Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry, who had spoken with Detroit about being the top overall pick, landed in Seattle at No. 4. Curry is considered capable of playing inside or outside in the pros.
Cincinnati went for Alabama tackle Andre Smith, the first AP All-American selected, at No. 6. Smith had some issues that included leaving the NFL combine early without notifying anyone, but the Bengals were unswayed.
Another tackle, Virginia's Eugene Monroe, went eighth overall to Jacksonville, one spot after Oakland -- no surprise here -- was seduced by the speed of Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey. The Raiders grabbed the player who had the fast 40-yard time in workouts, even though many projected him to go far later.
Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji to Green Bay and Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree, the highest-rated receiver before the draft, to San Francisco, rounded out the top 10.
Crabtree said he still felt he was the top receiver. He was asked about chasing the 49ers' receiving records held by one Jerry Rice. He smiled and said: "I got some big shoes to fill when I go to the 49ers, you know, with Jerry Rice. I am looking forward to that. I love challenges."
Not even Stafford nor Sanchez face that big a challenge.
With their first selection in the first round at No. 11, the Buffalo Bills selected Aaron Maybin, a first-team All-Big Ten defensive end out of Penn State. Buffalo took Louisville center Eric Wood with the No. 28 overall pick. Wood had 49 consecutive starts while with the Cardinals.
At No. 12, the Denver Broncos selected Knowshon Moreno from Georgia, a second-team All-America player who rushed for 1,400 yards last season to lead the SEC. Denver returned with another pick at No. 18, scooping up defensive end Robert Ayers out of Tennessee. He had 15½ tackles for loss in 2008, third-best in the SEC.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded the No. 19 pick and their sixth-round pick to Cleveland to move up to No. 17 and snag quarterback Josh Freeman out of Kansas State. He had 20 touchdown passes last year, fourth most in school history.
The Browns made another trade, this time sending the No. 19 overall pick to Philadelphia, letting the Eagles choose Missouri receiver Jeremy Maclin. Maclin had 1,260 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in 2008. In exchange, the Browns moved down to No. 21 and also picked up another sixth-round pick.
Later in the evening, the Eagles kept Pittsburgh running back LeSean McCoy in-state, picking him up with the 21st pick of the second round (No. 53 overall).
The Philadelphia Eagles drafted WR Jeremy Maclin with the 19th pick in the 2009 draft.
The Baltimore Ravens traded with New England to move up to No. 23 and selected Michael Oher, an offensive tackle out of Mississippi. Oher was a three-time All-SEC selection, and he made the first team his last two years in school.
Atlanta grabbed Mississippi defensive tackle Peria Jerry with the 24th overall selection.
At No. 25, Miami selected Vontae Davis, a defensive back out of Illinois. He was a third-team All-America pick last season and was a two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection (2007, '08).
The Green Bay Packers traded with New England to move up to No. 26 overall. They used that pick to draft USC linebacker Clay Matthews, a second-team All-Pac-10 selection last season. The Patriots also gave up their fifth-round pick to Green Bay, which traded a second-round pick and two third-round picks.
Donald Brown, the 2008 Big East offensive player of the year at Connecticut, was drafted at No. 27 by the Indianapolis Colts. He led the NCAA with 2,083 rushing yards last year and finished with 3,800 rushing yards for his career. He's the first UConn player drafted in the first round.
At No. 30, the Tennessee Titans selected receiver Kenny Britt out of Rutgers. Britt is the first Rutgers player to be drafted in the first round.
In the first round, 19 offensive players and 13 on defense went, and 15 underclassmen were chosen. Eight players from the Southeastern Conference were selected. Southern California had three Trojans picked, the most of any school.James Laurinaitis (ILB, No. 35 overall to St. Louis) and Brian Robiskie (WR, No. 36 overall to Cleveland) drafted with the third and fourth picks.
The third of USC's linebackers, Rey Maualuga, was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals with the sixth pick of the second round, No. 38 overall. Maualuga had been projected by ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay to be drafted in the mid-to-late first round.
West Virginia's highly productive quarterback, Pat White, who some teams look at as a wide receiver in the pros, was chosen by Miami, where he could fit nicely in its Wildcat formation. He is the only starting QB in NCAA history to win four bowl games.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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