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Thursday, February 12, 2009
Kiper prefers Cassel to Stafford, Sanchez


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

As you probably can understand, I was a tad too occupied Wednesday to listen in on ESPN draft overlord Mel Kiper Jr.'s national conference call.

The New York Jets announced something or other at the same time. I assumed ESPN would do me a solid and reschedule Mel for a time that better suited my schedule. Then I remembered I don't rate.

So I must lean on ever-vigilant Boston Globe reporter Mike Reiss for an interesting Kiper exchange in which he called New England Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel a better option than anybody in the draft.

Reiss asked if Kiper were in charge of the Detroit Lions or Kansas City Chiefs and had the option of trading for Cassel or drafting either of the best prospects on the board, what would the proper play be?

The Lions own the 1st, 20th and 33rd draft choices. The Chiefs have the 3rd and 34th.

"If I were Detroit or Kansas City, I would make that move [trade for Cassel] in a heartbeat," Kiper said. "If you're asking me if I would rather have Matt Cassel or Matthew Stafford or Mark Sanchez, I'd rather have Matt Cassel."

Kiper called Cassel the best quarterback from the 2005 draft class that included Alex Smith, Aaron Rodgers and Jason Campbell.

"He looked like he should have been the No. 1 overall pick in the draft," Kiper said of the seventh-round draft choice who entered 2008 without a start since high school. "It's amazing. To watch him play this year, if he would have been the No. 1 pick in the draft, people would have been very happy with the way he's playing right now.

"He came out the same year the other three quarterbacks did, and right now he's better than those other three, and I'm including [Jay] Cutler in that. I would rather have Cassel than Cutler.

"So, to me, I think Cassel is more than worthy of being a guy that the Kansas City Chiefs or Detroit Lions go after. He's played to the level of a No. 1 pick overall this year."