It's hard to believe it's been this long already, but Matthew Stafford is entering his seventh season as quarterback of the Detroit Lions. Granted, this will only be his fifth full season if he stays healthy, but he has been established as the Lions' starting quarterback for quite some time now.
It's been interesting to see how the perception of Stafford's career has evolved over the years. For his first two years in the league, for example, he was labeled as an injury-prone player after missing 19 games. In 2011, however, Stafford set the world on fire with more than 5,000 yards passing, 41 touchdowns and a playoff appearance.
In the three seasons since his breakout year, Stafford has continued to put up pretty good numbers. He's thrown for at least 4,257 yards and had at least 20 touchdown passes in every season since then, and he posted a career-low 12 interceptions in 2014. In addition, his completion percentage rose back above 60 percent, and he led the Lions back to the playoffs last season.
So, based on what he's done in recent years, what exactly is the national perception of Stafford now? Well, The MMQB's Andy Benoit recently ranked all 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL, and he put Stafford 13th.
13. Matthew Stafford, Lions
Owner of the best raw arm in the game, and he became more disciplined last season.
Considering that was only one spot behind the Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson, I suppose that's not too shabby for a player who has won zero playoff games and has only been to the postseason twice in his career.
I know we've been saying this for a few years now, but Stafford certainly seems to have the potential to play at a higher level, and he will need to finally realize that potential for the Lions to truly become perennial contenders. In the meantime, though, I suppose the Lions could do a lot worse at quarterback, as evidenced by some of the other names on this list.