We’re admittedly in the worst part of the offseason, and NFL writers have to get a little creative to keep the content mill running. That being said, Pro Football Focus’ idea of a Foundation Draft is one of much promise. The idea is that they are taking football players—both NFL and college—and throwing them into a draft pool devoid of current contracts. Pro Football Focus then asked a set of 32 of their contributors to start building the foundation of their team through a draft. In other words, create a list of the top 32 players to build a franchise around at this point in their career.
It’s a pretty neat idea, overall. If you could take any player in the NFL and start building a franchise round them, who would it be? I’ve heard many Detroit Lions fans say they wouldn’t take any player above Matthew Stafford given his current age and development. Do the analysts at Pro Football Focus feel the same way?
Uh... no. No they do not.
Stafford ended up being picked 14th overall by PFF contributor Aaron Resnick, who admitted he was surprised to have him still on the board. “Despite entering his ninth year, Stafford just turned 29 and was born the same year as both Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins, who are already off the board,” Resnick wrote. “His PFF grade of 85.4 in 2016 is his best to date as he figures to enter his prime soon.”
Of the 13 players selected before Stafford—all of which were quarterbacks—there were several head-scratchers. Stafford is sandwiched by two quarterbacks who have never played a single down in the NFL. At 13, Chiefs rookie Patrick Mahomes II was taken. While it makes sense to start your franchise with a young, promising quarterback, taking an unproven rookie—who wasn’t even the first quarterback taken in the 2017 NFL Draft—is quite a risk. There’s a reason Mahomes will be on a cheap rookie contract while Stafford is about to make well over $100 million. A proven quarterback is always more valuable than a risky rookie. Chosen after Stafford is current USC Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold, which is an insult to every player taken after him.
But the PFF crew didn’t stop their madness there. 38-year-old Drew Brees was taken before Stafford. Tom Brady, 39, was taken just before Brees, too. Remember, this is a foundation draft, and Brees realistically has, at most, three years left in him. Would you rather have two or three years of top five quarterbacking or 10+ years of top 10 quarterbacking? The answer seems obvious to me.
I could keep going pick-by-pick and voicing my disagreement (Dak Prescott at five? Really?), but that would leave you out of the fun. What did PFF get wrong? What did they get right? Where does Stafford belong in this list?