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Matthew Stafford projected as seventh-best QB in 2016

ESPN has the Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford seventh on its list of the projected top 10 quarterbacks in 2016.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, ESPN released its Future NFL Power Rankings. They are essentially projections for the 2016 season that are based on scores for five different categories. Overall, the Detroit Lions got a score of 56.92, putting them 21st in the NFL.

The Lions' best score -- a 6.8 out of 10 -- came in the quarterback category. It's no surprise that the Lions' top score came in this category now that ESPN's 2016 quarterback rankings have been released. The list includes a projection of the top 10 quarterbacks in 2016, and the Lions' Matthew Stafford checked in at No. 7. Here's the reasoning behind his placement in the rankings:

Stafford's talent is obvious. He delivers difficult throws accurately and decisively, and his health has stabilized. The Lions' contract extension for Calvin Johnson ensures Stafford will have a great weapon for the long haul, so the future remains bright for him. Still, Stafford fell short of expectations last season and the Lions could stand to balance out their offense. Stafford has dropped back to pass a league-high 46.3 times per game over the past two seasons, and he's done it without much threat from the Lions' ground game. Detroit is hoping that Reggie Bush can change that.

Consistency is really the key thing for Stafford going into the 2013 season. There were times in 2012 when he looked like one of the best quarterbacks in all of football, but there were also times when he looked like a careless rookie out there. It's true that a better running game would greatly help Stafford, but he needs to take that next step to be considered one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL.

The six quarterbacks in front of Stafford on this list, by the way, are as follows: Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton. Rodgers and Ryan are the only veterans in that group, as there are a lot of players who only recently burst onto the NFL scene.