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NFL exec high on Stafford for Lions



DETROIT – Matthew Stafford might become the face, voice and arm of perhaps the biggest rebuilding project in NFL history.

If the Detroit Lions take the Georgia quarterback with the No. 1 pick Saturday, a man with ties to the league who has known Stafford for years is convinced he can handle it.

“They should be so lucky to draft Matthew because he’s going to be a great quarterback for the next 10, 12 years,” Gil Brandt, the former personnel director of the Cowboys and the NFL’s scouting consultant, said in a telephone interview from Dallas. “I’ve known him since he was in the seventh grade because you can hit a driver from my house to his and my son was two years behind him in high school.

“I can tell you the Lions wouldn’t have to worry about his ability or character.”

Detroit general manager Martin Mayhew said the chances were “very good” an agreement would be reached with the No. 1 pick before the draft begins.

Stafford seems to be Plan A, but his contract demands could lead to the Lions reaching a deal with Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry or Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith.

Stafford, Curry or Smith will not be able to fix all the problems associated with the NFL’s first 0-16 franchise, whose 31-97 record since 2001 is the worst eight-year stretch by an NFL team since World War II.

But the Lions can’t afford to draft another bust.

“Obviously, the draft is the biggest crap shoot there is,” Stafford has said.

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