ATHENS. — Matthew Stafford showed off his strong arm Thursday for NFL scouts, an important step if he wants to realize his dream of being the No. 1 pick in next month’s draft.
With representatives for each of the 32 professional teams watching, Stafford completed 45 of his 50 passes to four receivers on Georgia’s pro day.
In a script of plays he said he wrote, Stafford zipped passes to each sideline, he threw deep routes — including one completion of at least 50 yards — and he threw while rolling to his right and left.
The workout was important because Stafford did not throw at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.
“I wanted to be able to throw a bunch of balls,” Stafford said. “At Indy you get to throw about 10 to 15 and it was a good chance for me to get out here and throw 50 and let people see.”
Stafford didn’t give himself a grade but said “I think I did pretty good.”
“I missed one or two that I just threw high but other than that I think I did well,” he said. “This is how well you can throw in your shorts to a guy in a T-shirt with nobody guarding him, so it’s important I guess for people to see the physical attributes, but it’s not real football.”
Stafford is projected by draft analysts as the possible top draft pick by Detroit. The Lions had five representatives at the workout, including general manager Martin Mayhew.
“It was a great workout, a great pro day,” said Mayhew, who would not speak specifically about Stafford.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterbacks coach Mike Shula said he was impressed by Stafford’s throws.
“I think he’s got a bright mind,” Shula said. “I think he’s a fast thinker and I think he has all the tools that an NFL quarterback is going to need to be successful.”
Shula said Stafford’s draft status should not be hurt by not throwing at the NFL combine.
“I think, especially with a guy who supposedly has a chance to be a very, very high pick, it’s understandable,” Shula said. “I think maybe guys down the line need that. We respect all that. Do we want everyone to work out at the combine? Yeah. We respect that, especially with someone who is in the position he’s in.”
Stafford was the star of the workout, but he wasn’t the only Georgia player who is expected to be picked in the first round. Knowshon
Moreno, who could be the first running back taken in the draft, also attracted much attention while posting times of 4.60 and 4.63 in the 40-yard dash.
“This atmosphere is not really as stressful as the combine,” Moreno said. “It was good to get here and be with your teammates. It’s more relaxed, but it’s still a work day.”
Georgia receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and cornerback Asher Allen also are projected as possible picks on the first day of the draft.
Stafford threw to Massaquoi, Kenneth Harris, Demiko Goodman and tight end Tripp Chandler.
Even with all the NFL executives on the Georgia practice fields, Moreno noted that Stafford still looked calm.
“He’s always relaxed,” Moreno said. “He’s not feeling any pressure. He knows what his capabilities are.”
Said Stafford: “It’s been about what I expected. It’s crazy but it’s a lot of fun, too.”
Stafford said he wouldn’t worry about being drafted by a Detroit team that didn’t win a game last season and has already visited with the Lions.
“I think it’d be an honor to be able to be picked No. 1 and also I want to get a chance to turn something around,” he said. “It’d be a heck of a place for me to be able to go.”
Southern Cal’s Mark Sanchez joins Stafford as the highest rated quarterbacks in the draft.
When asked what he can bring to an NFL team, Stafford gave a quick response: “A guy who is physically gifted and mentally as well, and I’m a guy that they know what they’re getting. I’m going to be the same every day no matter what’s going on around me and that’s accountable.”
Stafford was a three-year starter at Georgia before bypassing his senior year to enter the draft.
He completed 235 of 383 passes (61.4 percent) for 3,459 yards with a school-record 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and was 27-7 as a starter in his career.