"Another wide receiver?!?!" These words might as well have been glued to the foreheads of anyone calling their self a Lions fan from 2000-2010. From 2007-2010 it was the running joke of the NFL on draft day: Detroit has many needs, but in the end they'll probably draft another wideout.
Meet Titus Young. Examine his body of work at Boise State—three time all-WAC selection, the school's all-time leading receiver with 3,063 yards, second in receptions with 204. Realize he isn't Charles Rogers, he's not Mike Williams, nor Derrick Williams but a bona fide playmaker. He might be exactly what Roy Williams (what was the infatuation with receivers named Williams?) wasn't—the perfect compliment to Calvin Johnson.
After years of reaching for wide receivers—or simply taking one because he was the best available athlete on the board—Detroit snagged Young with the 44th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. The past few weeks the kid has been playing like he was worthy of a first round selection.
During Detroit's drumming of Kansas City, Young pulled in five catches for eighty-nine yards. His longest catch came on a third down and forever. Young leaped over a defender to catch a dart from Stafford. The 43-yard gem was a play that even elite wide receivers would've had trouble pulling in. Matthew Stafford rushed to the line so that the play wouldn't be challenged, but the replay revealed Young's excellent focus as he hung on the ball.
How about the overtime victory against Minnesota? Young had four grabs for 51 yards. Twice keeping the chains moving on crucial third downs.
Young was only targeted four times in the Dallas game, coming away with three catches for forty-one yards. Still, not too shabby for a rookie second round draft choice.
What you're bearing witness to, is a young kid coming into his own after missing most of the preseason due to a hamstring injury.
Before the season I had quietly thought Johnson and Nate Burleson might be one of the better wide receiver tandems in 2011. I even wrote an article (click here) stating that Johnson and Burleson could break the franchise record for combined touchdown receptions set by Moore & Perriman.
A reader commented making the legitimate point that a few years down the line it could be Johnson and Young that go after the record; not Megatron and Burleson. I tend to agree with that point, but could it be as early as next season?
Young can stretch the field, go across the middle, and get yards after the catch. He has the potential to annually provide an 80-plus reception, 1,000-plus yard and eight touchdown season for the Lions.
Titus Young hasn't received much national attention as of yet, but I will boldly predict he scores his first NFL touchdown on Monday Night Football. Opposing defensive coordinators are currently only worried about Calvin Johnson, making Burleson an after thought and Young a "who?"
That's fine. Allow Young to lay low for the time being, something tells me his colorful personality will be on display in the foreseeable future.
Come Monday night, America will know the name of another one of the Detroit Lions wide receivers. I'll give you one hint, his last name isn't Williams.