Dec. 30, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws a pass in the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback Rankings: No. 17


Every two days, Rishi Pochiraju will reveal a quarterback on his grand list of quarterback rankings. Each quarterback will receive a grade out of 50 – 10 points for each category. See his page for earlier ranked quarterbacks. Up next: number 17.

#17.  Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

Matt Stafford has proven to be a solid quarterback over the last two seasons, averaging just over 5,000 yards over that time period. As shown by the numbers, Stafford can be a very productive quarterback (although many of those yards in 2012 came in garbage time).

After his durability was questioned throughout the first two years of his career, he rebounded nicely, starting all 33 games (including playoffs) in 2011 and 2012.

Stafford may now have the talent around him for the Lions to become more balanced (for example, the team signed Reggie Bush), and the quarterback won’t have to throw 600 passes.

Physical traits and athleticism

Listed at 6-3, Stafford has good size as a quarterback. He can easily see over the line of scrimmage and get the ball downfield to receivers. His mobility (4.81 40 time) is enough for playing quarterback – this may help him with rollout play-action passes. He may occasionally pick up a first down on the ground. Grade: 7/10

Arm talent

The Lions’ starter is known for his strong arm. He has a cannon arm, perhaps the strongest in the league. Stafford is capable of making any throw, literally any throw. He would get mentally tired of playing football before that arm would get tired. There are specific drawbacks, however, with having such a strong arm, such as relying on it too much and ignoring mechanics, but Stafford has been doing a good job keeping that under control. Grade: 8.5/10

Mechanics

Stafford’s mechanics, especially his footwork, sometimes become an issue inside the pocket. Those mistakes lead to ill-advised turnovers, but with the arm he has, it’s possible to avoid those mistakes. He also throws with a type of sidearm motion, that doesn’t necessarily matter as long as he has a quick release and the ball is accurate as well as on time. Grade: 7/10

Mental make-up

Going into his fifth season, Stafford has learned many good things about playing the position in the NFL, starting with staying healthy. He has been able to do so the last two seasons after starting a combined 13 games in his first two years. Stafford has been reading defenses, although he may get fooled by exotic looks at times. Overall, his mental ability as a quarterback is continually improving with experience. Grade: 7.5/10

Intangibles

Stafford is a primary leader of a Lions’ squad who lost its fire after a 2011 playoff run. As a leader of that team, he will bring the Detroit locker room together this year, and the team should improve on last year’s 4-12 campaign. He has a competitive edge to him, one that will help him become a better quarterback. Grade: 7.5/10

Overall impression

Matthew Stafford has proven to be a solid, effective, and productive quarterback over his four-year Detroit tenure. He has all the physical skills to succeed in this business, and with a contract extension looming, I expect him to elevate his team to perhaps the level of the 2011 squad. Overall Grade: 37.5/50

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