To Stafford or not to Stafford?

Matthew Stafford against the Tennessee Volunteers during the 2008 season. (Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images)

Georgia QB Matthew Stafford didn't much support from an NFL Network panel as the No. 1 overall draft pick. (Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images)

With a little more than 48 hours before the NFL draft, the NFL Network is in full swing preparing for its coverage. Sitting in on the network’s production meeting Thursday morning gave me an inside look at what you will see live as the draft unfolds.

Check out the football minds around the table: former coach Brian Billick, Deion Sanders, draft expert Mike Mayock, Charles Davis, former coach Jon Gruden, former GM Charley Casserly, Jamie Dukes, Marshall Faulk and former coach Steve Mariucci. Heavy hitters.

As the group – along with a slew of TV producers – discussed the 25 hours of live programming this weekend, much of the time was spent discussing what the Lions will do with the first pick and the impact that decision will have. We know Detroit has entered into negotiations with Georgia QB Matthew Stafford, via Steve Wyche’s report. We know they’ve discussed contract parameters for Baylor OT Jason Smith and Wake Forest LB Aaron Curry as well. Yet as of this morning, nothing is done.

Before the discussion even moved beyond the first pick, here’s what you need to know – slightly less than half of the room would take Stafford No. 1 overall. There are strong opinions here that the Lions don’t have enough talent to allow Stafford to be as successful as Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco were last season. On the flipside, if the Lions truly believe in him, they have to pull the trigger.

In this room, at least, it’s universal — the Lions have to get a QB. But which one?

When you begin to consider the other elements involved – ticket sales, public relations, the success rate of underclassmen quarterbacks, owning three of the first 33 picks – it’s an intriguing discussion. It’s all but certain the Lions have had this same conversation.

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