The lowdown on the Lions and Matthew Stafford

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports that Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford had an outstanding private workout Tuesday with Detroit officials and suggests Stafford is now the top candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick of the NFL draft. Mort's information is consistent with that of Tony Pauline from SI.com and Gil Brandt of NFL.com.

The similarity of those reports suggests two somewhat contradicting conclusions:

  1. Stafford had a great workout and has moved to the top of the Lions' list.

  2. The Lions want people to think Stafford had a great workout and has moved to the top of their list.

Sorry to be a cynic. And to be clear, this is in no way a comment on the reporting that's been done on this event. But the reality is it's in the Lions' best interests for people to believe he is their top choice. It gives them more leverage in trade discussions with other teams, should they arise. And in the event they really prefer another player -- say, Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith or Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry -- they would be in a better position to extract a discounted contract if they maintain a public perception that Stafford is their likeliest target.

That said, the Lions put a lot of time into Stafford the past two days. According to Mortensen, some of the Lions' contingent grilled him in the classroom on Monday before taking to the field Tuesday. He threw between 40 and 50 passes and performed "much better" than he did in March 19 pro day workout.

This is a great time of year if you're a conspiracy theorist. There's always a chance that misinformation is circling. But for the time being, all of the above-board indications suggest the Lions are growing closer to settling on Stafford.

As of now, the Lions plan to attend USC's pro day Wednesday. Coach Jim Schwartz said last week that he hoped to spend some extra time with quarterback Mark Sanchez afterwards.

Here is Mort's full report: