Detroit Lions Top 50: #44-40 with VIDEO

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41. Matthew Stafford, QB, 2009-

I already know what your thinking, but he absolutely deserves a place on this list. In fact, Stafford could retire tomorrow and still deserve this spot. Stafford is already second on the Lions career passing yards list, and will likely be No. 1 before too much longer. Not too bad for a fifth year player.

Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

In high school, he was widely considered to be one of the best high school quarterbacks in the United States in the Class of 2006, ranked ahead of Tim Tebow.

Before he had even started a game at the collegiate level, analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. predicted, correctly, that Stafford would eventually be the first pick in the NFL Draft. Stafford returned home from Texas to his native Georgia for his college ball. Here is a list of some of his Awards and Honors:

  • Awards and honors

    • Named SEC Freshman of the Week twice during the 2006 season.
    • Named’s National Freshman of the Week for his performance against Auburn on November 11, 2006.
    • Received the University of Georgia’s 2006 Offensive Newcomer of the Year Award.
    • Named to the 2006 SEC Coaches’ All-Freshman Team.
    • Named Offensive MVP of the 2006 Chick-fil-A Bowl
    • Named All-America in 2008 by Pro Football Weekly.
    • Named to Second-team All-SEC in 2008.
    • MVP of the 2009 Capital One Bowl.

On April 24, 2009, Stafford agreed to record contract terms with the Lions to become the first overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, one day before the draft was held. The six-year contract reportedly contains $41.7 million in guaranteed money (the most guaranteed to any player in NFL history until July 30, 2010.)

Even with so little playing experience, he either owns or is within striking distance of every major franchise passing record, and that is exactly why he deserves a spot.