Right guy, wrong position
Johnson is great, but WRs rarely turn around teams
Posted: Saturday April 28, 2007 1:17PM; Updated: Saturday April 28, 2007 2:46PM
DETROIT -- Steve Young is a guy I have tremendous respect for, as a player and a person. But he said something on ESPN last night that I've got to take issue with. He thought the Raiders should take Calvin Johnson with the first pick today, because, in his words: "He's the guy who can take you to the promised land.''
Receivers don't take teams to the promised land. They never have. I don't think Calvin Johnson will take the Lions there. Not to say it wouldn't have been a great pick. It's definitely the pick I would have made. I think he's unquestionably the best prospect in this draft, and virtually certain to have a very good NFL career ... perhaps even a Hall of Fame one. But I checked every first round since 1984, and 10 receivers have been picked in the top five of the draft. And you can't make the case that a single one took his team -- or is taking his team now -- on his shoulders to greatness.
The 10 receivers:
2005: Braylon Edwards, Cleveland.
You can say that Calvin Johnson is better than all of them. He may be. I'd say the four best wideouts on this list are Irving Fryar, Keyshawn Johnson, Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. The Patriots made the Super Bowl in Fryar's second year, but that New England team was one of the worst Super Bowl teams ever. The Pats never did much in Fryar's career after that; only once did he catch more than 60 balls as a Patriot. Keyshawn helped the Jets become a playoff team, but they were never really a threat to win it all with him. Johnson and Fitzgerald? Great talents. In the seven combined seasons Johnson and Fitzgerald have played in the NFL, the Texans and Cardinals have not finished over .500.
Again, I'm not trashing this pick. I'm just asking for some perspective on it. A wideout is not Houdini.
Five Things I Think After The First Four Picks
1. I think I'm not sure I would have picked a tackle over Brady Quinn if I were Cleveland, but the choice of Joe Thomas was as solid as the first two picks. Here's why: Thomas is one of the most athletic left tackles to come out in several years, and he'll give the Browns 10 years of absolute reliability at a vital position. Isn't that what the draft is all about?
2. I think Brady Quinn could fall all the way to nine now.
3. I think I wasn't convinced the Lions would hang on to Johnson until 1:25 this afternoon when Matt Millen said here at Lions headquarters: "Calvin's staying right he in Detroit." He said he would not accept any offer for Johnson. Millen had heard from several teams before the draft, and no team came close to satisfying the Lions' demands for multiple picks for the No. 2.
4. I think Randy Moss, Mike Williams (the Detroit receiver) and Michael Turner will all be traded by Sunday night.
5. I think I'm surprised that Washington didn't trade either up or down from No. 6. I know it wasn't for lack of trying.