“And with the second pick in the 2007 draft the Detroit Lions select Calvin Johnson”. With those 15 words the Lions selected a wide receiver that would completely change the team and arguably become one of the greatest wide receivers to play the game. In one of the best draft classes to have come around in the modern era Calvin Johnson stood out.
In college he played football for Georgia Tech, where he made a strong case for being one the greatest Georgia Tech players of all time. In fact his records still stand for career receiving yards, TD receptions and for 100-yard receiving games.
Even with the impressive numbers that he put together he didn’t win the Heismann trophy (the 2006 winner was QB Troy Smith) but he did win the Biletnikoff Award for the best wide receiver. His college play meant that at Midseason he was being touted as the #1 pick in the draft.
Analysts were saying that he would be able to contribute straight away, that he was the new Randy Moss. Calvin though just kept his head down, delivered at the combine and at his pro day. Then came those immortal 15 words from the commissioner.
Stepping out into the NFL
Most people expected that the Lions had drafted him to immediately trade which was reasonably common back then, rather than trading picks as teams do now but the team announced that they were going to keep him.
Then came the day that I’m sure gave Cornerbacks all over the league nightmares September 9th 2007. Not even starting against the Raiders he caught 4 passes for 70 yards and scored a TD. Now obviously it’s not overly realistic just to ‘straight line’ that to the end of the season, but imagine it is – that works out to be 64 receptions for over 1,000 yards and 16 TD’s. For a rookie. That’s the level of talent that he had.
And sure, you think as a defence you’d just double team him, that’d stop him being effective but that was the beauty of his game- at 6ft 5 with a vert of 42.5in you can just launch that ball up and he will get it.
Johnson went on dominating the league at his position racking up a ridiculous number of records in the NFL and for the Lions (I won’t list them all here) but he was the fastest player in the history of the game to get to 10,000 NFL receiving yards (115 games) and 12 games later had 11,000 yards. All of this while having a number of Quarterbacks, different offensive schemes, and of course facing a constant double team against defenders.
Now you know why they called him Megatron….