April 18, 2009 at 1:00 am

Jerry Green

If Kiper likes Stafford, Lions should stay away

Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford figures to be one of the few players the Lions are strongly considering for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

This is a very important message for the Lions' upper brass:

Messrs. Lewand, Mayhew and Schwartz -- next Saturday when you assemble for the annual game of pin the tail on the donkey at the 2009 draft and select first off the board, you must follow the sage advice of Mel Kiper Jr.

Kiper, you must realize, is the foremost wizard of available college talent. His football intelligence is such that newspapers across America froth when he offers recommendations and actually publish material he delivers in his telephonic conferences.

For instance, you Lions bosses did not have the opportunity to discuss this year's draft with Kiper the other day. But professional journalists did.

And what Kiper said was if the Lions -- specifically Tom Lewand, Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz -- do not seize the opportunity to select Matthew Stafford they would be categorized as dummies. Kiper urges them to pin the tail of the donkey with Stafford's name as the Lions are in dire need of a franchise quarterback.

Top donkey

Now, it is well known throughout the NFL, that Kiper is regarded as exceedingly familiar with the tail of the donkey. Each year he offers suggestions to enhance the NFL's version of the birthday party frolic in which kids are spun dizzy, then given pins with a paper tails and told to pin them near the rump of the donkey.

Kiper has become a foremost practitioner of pin the tail on the donkey, for it is that region of anatomy that personifies him.

After all, the Lions of yesteryear paid firm attention to the advice of Kiper at the draft of 1990. "Pick Ware," Kiper suggested on TV. He predicted NFL quarterbacking excellence for Andre Ware and that he would be a great match for the Lions.

The Lions spent their first pick to select Ware.

Now I'm certain members of the Lions' inner sanctum are aware how successful that first-round selection became. Indeed, it could be pinpointed as the catalyst to the Lions' current historic situation. And how they have reached, annually the heights (the heights of the draft, that is).

It could be that Matt Millen's most trusted adviser at recent drafts was the same well-regarded Kiper.

Just four years ago Kiper urged the Lions to use their first-round selection, No. 10 on the board, for receiver Mike Williams.

"I'll see you at his Hall of Fame induction," Kiper was heard to declare on ESPN in praise of Williams.

Williams turned out to be the ideal pick for the Lions 2005. He fit in perfectly with the thrust of the Lions in the 21st Century.

Fool me once ...

ESPN touts Kiper as the keenest draft guru in all of America. In addition to his supportive recommendations of Ware and Williams to the Lions, a sampler from Wikipedia lists other of Kiper's right-on draft suggestions.

He was the guru who said the Colts would be foolish drafting Marshall Faulk. And it was Kiper, who raved that Ryan Leaf's attitude would be an asset as an NFL quarterback. Kiper's knowledge was such that he declared Leaf would be a superior quarterback selection to Peyton Manning.

Wikipedia also noted that in 1998 Kiper referred to the Packers' choice of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in the sixth round as "a waste of a pick."

Kiper's draft judgments have been widely praised by NFL executives. For example, after Kiper criticized the Colts for not drafting Trent Dilfer in 1994, his wisdom was applauded by Bill Tobin, the Indianapolis franchise's general manager, in widely reported quotes.

". . . who the hell is Mel Kiper, anyway? . . . In my knowledge of him, he's never put on a jockstrap, he's never been a player, he's never been a coach, he's never been an administrator, and all of a sudden, he's an expert. He's in our paper two days ago, telling us who we have to take. We don't have to take anybody that Mel Kiper says we have to take.

"Mel Kiper has no more credentials to do what he's doing than my neighbor, and my neighbor's a postman and he doesn't even have season tickets to the NFL."

So when the acclaimed Kiper lauds Stafford as the first pick in his mock drafts -- and when he sends the message via the Detroit media that the Lions must pick this quarterback, Messrs. Lewand, Mayhew and Schwartz would be negligent if they didn't listen.

Don't you think?

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