Lions name quarterback Stafford top draft pick

NEW YORK Sat Apr 25, 2009 10:13pm EDT

1 of 31. Top NFL prospects stand together on stage before the start of the 2009 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York, April 25, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Detroit Lions named University of Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford as number one pick on Saturday, finalizing the biggest draft deal of all time.

Detroit, selecting first of the 32 clubs after becoming the league's first 0-16 team last season, agreed a six-year, $72 million contract with the 21-year-old.

Out of the total package, $41.7 million is guaranteed.

Stafford led Georgia to a 27-7 record as a starter, throwing 51 touchdown passes against 33 interceptions through his junior year last season.

Despite his credentials, fans wearing football jerseys in the third balcony of the Radio City Music Hall venue booed the selection and chanted "overrated" as Stafford posed for pictures with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

"I'm extremely happy they had the confidence in me to choose me," Stafford told reporters. "I feel I'm ready for the challenge."

SECOND PICK

Asked about going to the victory-starved Lions, Stafford, whose contract includes incentives that could lift it to $78 million, said: "Winning cures a lot of stuff and hopefully that's what I can do."

The St Louis Rams were next up and made 343-pound (155.6-kg) Baylor tackle Jason Smith the second pick of the draft while the Kansas City Chiefs claimed Louisiana State University defensive end Tyson Jackson as the third selection.

After the Seattle Seahawks grabbed Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry with the fourth pick, the Cleveland Browns traded the fifth choice to the New York Jets who selected University of Southern California quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Jets fans roared their approval of the bold move to replace retired quarterback Brett Favre with Sanchez for a package that included their first-round choice, the 17th pick overall, a second-round pick (52nd overall), defensive end Kenyon Coleman, quarterback Brett Ratliff and defensive back Abram Elam.

The Browns traded down two more times, adding a sixth-round pick each time, before taking center Alex Mack of California with the 21st overall selection.

Three offensive tackles were among the first eight picks with Andre Smith of Alabama going to Cincinnati as the sixth choice, and Virginia's Eugene Monroe named by Jacksonville two picks later.

The wide receiver position produced some surprises with speedster Darrius Heyward-Bey of Maryland going to the Oakland Raiders at number seven as the first pass catcher selected.

Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech was taken by San Francisco at number 10.

"I always feel like I'm the best," Crabtree said. "I work to be the best."

Asked about whether there might be a cross-bay rivalry with Heyward-Bey playing in Oakland, Crabtree said: "I just feed it into motivation."

(Additional reporting by Richard Cato)

(Editing by John O'Brien. To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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