Player Points - Calvin Johnson
By Chase Stuart
May 17th, 2010

Almost everyone loves Calvin Johnson: he's the rare player whose off-the-charts athleticism is matched in the character and work ethic departments. He's also off to a very good start to his career, matching his big draft hype with great production. The Lions drafted Matthew Stafford last year, and it looks like Detroit now has their quarterback and wide receiver of the future.

The Lions have played this game before, though, and so have some other teams. Stafford and Johnson are the 15th QB/WR combination drafted inside the top ten by the same team within two years of each other. Detroit's done this with Joey Harrington and Roy Williams, Joey Harrington and Charles Rogers, and Andre Ware and Herman Moore. The Raiders also matched this feat in the 2007 and 2009 drafts, going with JaMarcus Russell and Darrius Heyward-Bey. It won't take much for Johnson and Stafford to become the most prolific duo of the bunch.

It's too early to grade Stafford and Johnson, or even Leinart and Fitzgerald (we might be able to grade Russell and Heyward-Bey, now that Russell has been released). But we can safely analyze the first 12 combinations drafted since the merger; only two of the 12 pairs of selections turned out to be even modestly successful. Both came via the 1970 and 1971 drafts, but neither saw both pairs reward the teams that drafted them. The Steelers took Terry Bradshaw and Frank Lewis in consecutive drafts. We all know about Bradshaw; Lewis wasn't a productive pass catcher in Pittsburgh, but his career blossomed after he moved to Buffalo, thanks in part to the 1978 rule changes which made the passing game more successful. Likewise, the other combination featured Archie Manning and Ken Burrough. Burrough played just one season in New Orleans before becoming a star with the Houston Oilers.

Since the merger, no team has selected a QB and a WR in the Top 10 in a three-year span and enjoyed the fruits of their drafting. Will Johnson and Stafford be the first? Johnson is well on his way to becoming a star. All signs point to Stafford becoming, at a minimum, a serviceable NFL QB. Although if he doesn't, don't expect Detroit fans to be surprised.

Team
Year
Pick
Pos
Player
VBD
totVBD
pit
1970
1
QB
Terry Bradshaw
395
614
pit
1971
8
WR
Frank Lewis
218
614
nor
1971
2
QB
Archie Manning
177
584
nor
1970
10
WR
Ken Burrough
407
584
det
1990
7
QB
Andre Ware
0
577
det
1991
10
WR
Herman Moore
577
577
crd
2006
10
QB
Matt Leinart
0
540
crd
2004
3
WR
Larry Fitzgerald
540
540
sea
1993
2
QB
Rick Mirer
1
465
sea
1995
8
WR
Joey Galloway
463
465
htx
2002
1
QB
David Carr
0
445
htx
2003
3
WR
Andre Johnson
445
445
det
2009
1
QB
Matthew Stafford
0
157
det
2007
2
WR
Calvin Johnson
157
157
det
2002
3
QB
Joey Harrington
0
124
det
2004
7
WR
Roy Williams
124
124
was
1994
3
QB
Heath Shuler
0
69
was
1995
4
WR
Michael Westbrook
69
69
cin
1999
3
QB
Akili Smith
0
56
cin
2000
4
WR
Peter Warrick
56
56
jax
2003
7
QB
Byron Leftwich
0
7
jax
2004
9
WR
Reggie Williams
7
7
cin
1979
3
QB
Jack Thompson
0
0
cin
1981
10
WR
David Verser
0
0
det
2002
3
QB
Joey Harrington
0
0
det
2003
2
WR
Charles Rogers
0
0
rai
2007
1
QB
JaMarcus Russell
0
0
rai
2009
7
WR
Darrius Heyward-Bey
0
0
was
1994
3
QB
Heath Shuler
0
0
was
1992
4
WR
Desmond Howard
0
0

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to stuart@footballguys.com.