Of the three first round WR that Matt Millen drafted, Calvin Johnson so far has been the most productive, with by far the most potential. However, that is all we’ve really seen to this point – potential. Now, before everyone starts in with the hate mail: Calvin Johnson has the potential to be one of the greatest in the game. Up until this point, his stats have been just good. However, not all of that is exactly his fault. Lets look at his career stats (from Detroitlions.com)
It is typically said that most WR take a year or two to find their feet in the NFL, and Johnson was no exception. He was, however, fighting more than just rookie inexperience in 2007:
- A short holdout of only a couple of days put him behind from the get-go in Mike Martz’s “War and Peace and the Unabridged Dictionary are too short” offense
- He was a rookie, which meant Martz didn’t trust him to be able to play, so he got few reps with the first team
- Roy Williams was his veteran “role model” to learn how not to run good routes and concentrate on the game
- He was fighting a painful back injury that hampered him nearly the entire season
Despite all of this, he still managed to put up reasonable rookie numbers, and showed flashes of what he could do – if used down the field as an actual pass catcher vs a decoy. His second year, despite having Jon Kitna, Daunte Culpepper, Dan Orlovsky, Drew Stanton et al throwing to him in the midst of the 0-16 debacle he put up a very solid season – including an electric 96 yd TD. Roy Williams was traded just before the deadline, and this took away the only other perceived receiving threat on the field.
Finally, last year CJ was once again fighting injury — something we hope does not become a theme. He also was dealing with the continuing revolving door at the other 3 WR spots as the Lions kept searching for someone who not only wanted the darn ball, but could catch it! He saw constant triple, and even quadruple coverage at one point (which was due to the Lions’ offensive line woes shutting down the running game, and the lack of a home-run hitter in the backfield, as much as a lack of other WR threats). Throw in a rookie QB and the eventual loss of Kevin Smith andBrandon Pettigrew to injuries…well, you can see the cumulative effect of all the above factors in his stats last year. (Also in my FFB placement since he’s my #1 WR in the keeper league!)
Calvin Johnson will once again be the #1 WR, but he finally has help all over the field. In a crowded WR competition, CJ is the lock on the roster and will finally have a chance to eclipse his 2008 numbers and let his potential become reality.
IF… next up: WR Veteran Cavalry Arrives: Burleson