*Editor's Note: With the offseason in full swing, the focus is now shifting to the 2016 season, where the Cowboys have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. Dallas not only faces five playoff teams, but also many of the top players in football as well. The writers of DallasCowboys.com have ranked the top 50 expected to be on the field this season, including those the Cowboys. Today, we kick off the list with Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.) *
Name: Matthew Stafford
Height/Weight: 6-2 / 230
Experience: 7 seasons
2016 vs. Cowboys:Stafford and the Lions play at Dallas on Monday Night Football on Dec. 26 at AT&T Stadium.
What's the Deal: The 2014 Pro Bowler enters his eighth year, but it'll be his first without one of his best weapons as Calvin Johnson announced his retirement at the end of last season. The Lions will feature Golden Tate even more and hope that free-agent additions Marvin Jones and Jeremy Kerley will help provide some playmaking relief.
Expect This: Regardless of who will be running routes for him, Stafford will definitely chunk the ball around the yard. He is the NFL's all-time leader in pass attempts per game, at 39.7.
Previous Meetings: Stafford has only faced the Cowboys twice in the regular season. The Dallas native did square off against the Cowboys in the 2014 playoffs, coming up short with a late fumble.
The two regular-season meetings have been quite dramatic, and include Stafford leading Detroit back from a 27-3 deficit to beat the Cowboys 34-30 at AT&T Stadium in 2011. Two years later, he drove the Lions to a last-second victory, thanks to his quarterback sneak, lifting Detroit to a 31-30 win.
Bryan Broaddus Scouting Report:
- Has always been a competitive player. Shows physical and mental toughness. Is willing to stand in there and take a hit.
- There were plenty of snaps where he had to deal with protection problems and he was able to bounce back
- Outstanding arm talent and strength. Quick, compact throwing motion. Ball comes off his hand nicely, even when footwork is not at his best. Will use all kinds of arm angles to deliver the ball. Will drop down to fit the ball underneath the rusher. Touch for screens and the flat. Doesn't make his receivers work for the ball. Accurate to hit his man on the move.
- Can really throw the slant or those in breaking routes, especially the "Texas" routes to backs. Can lay the ball there on the deep route. Almost like he is dropping it down in a basket. Nice accuracy both inside and outside the numbers. Is that way from the left or right hash across the field.
- Much better player when he can throw from the pocket. His mistakes tend to happen once he decides to go on the move. Will hang in there to throw under duress, but his accuracy is not as good. Knows where to go with the ball and does it with a thought in mind.
- Shows the poise to get rid of it if things break down. Plenty of overthrows and screens in the ground if play is not there. Good anticipation and timing on his throws.
- Some questions about whether his vision is sharp because of the throws that he makes in tight windows. There were turnovers that showed that.
- Team rallies around him. They find ways to make plays for him. Has always played hurt. No questions about his toughness.
- Pocket mechanics can be all over the place. Will set his feet one time then the next be throwing in full retreat. Moves well enough, but defenses find ways to sack him. Best when he can go forward as opposed to laterally. Doesn't have great speed or quickness in the pocket.
- Makes good throws, but not clutch throws. Consistency will come and go. Has those snaps of brilliance and others where he leaves you shaking your head.
- Can take over a game with his ability, but hasn't done it nearly enough.