So you think Matt Millen is an idiot?
You don't know nothing, yet.
While the Ford family is busy getting ready to hand Millen another promotion – we believe Pigskin Potentate is the new title they have in store for the president and CEO
of the Lions – we took a little drive down the Edsel Ford Freeway in our F-150 of failure and looked at all the players the Lions passed on in their desperate (and failed) quest to add wide receivers to the roster over the last five years.
As we all know, Millen has devoted four of his past five No. 1 picks to the wide receiver position. This strategy was doomed to failure for two major reasons:
- wide receiver is historically the position in which high draft picks are most likely to fail, and
- it's rarely a position that will have an immediate impact on a team's fortunes if the team still sucks – as Detroit usually does –at quarterback, offensive line and defense.
So, without further adon't!, here's a look at No. 1 picks still on the board when Matt Millen opted to waste his No. 1 picks on wideouts.
Detroit fans are advised to put down all sharp objects and avoid bridges for three to five weeks.
Detroit drafted WR Charles Rogers (No. 2 overall) – He played 15 games in three seasons, caught 36 passes for 440 yards and 4 TD, and was out of football by 2006. Oooh, that hurt, especially considering ...
Detroit left these guys on the board:
Andre Johnson, WR, Houston (No. 3) – Johnson's been a full-time starter, with two 1,000-yard seasons and a 103-catch campaign in 2006. The Lions haven't seen a guy grab 100 balls since Matt Millen invited Lance Bass into the locker room after the win over Denver last year. (Actually, since Herman Moore had a spate of 100-catch seasons in the mid 1990s.)
Terence Newman, CB, Dallas (No. 5) – Instantly became starting CB with Cowboys and never missed a game until 2007, but made his first Pro Bowl last year. The Lions have had just one CB reach the Pro Bowl (Dre Bly) since Hall of Famer Lem Barney played in the 1970s.
Terrell Suggs, OLB, Baltimore (No. 10) – Raced out of the gates with 12 sacks his rookie year. A defensive stalwart on what's consistently been one of the league's toughest units. Detroit fans haven't heard the phrase "defensive stalwart" since Joe Schmidt retired in 1965.
Marcus Trufant, CB, Seattle (No. 11) – Instant impact player as a rookie with Seattle, and has started all but two games in his five-year career. Reached his first Pro Bowl in 2007.
Troy Polamalu, S, Pittsburgh (No. 16) – One of the most productive defensive players in the league, as evidenced by his four straight Pro Bowl selections. As a team, Detroit has produced just five Pro Bowl selections since passing on Polamalu in 2003.
Willis McGahee, RB, Buffalo (No. 23) – He's produced three 1,000-yard seasons for the Bills and for the Ravens, and fell 10 yards shy of another. Detroit has produced just one 1,000-yard rusher since passing on McGahee in 2003.
Dallas Clark, TE, Indy (No. 24) – A trusted Peyton Manning safety valve since his rookie year – 'nuf ced – with a breakout 58 catches and 11 TD in 2007. The record for TDs by a Lions tight end is 8.
Nick Barnett, LB, Green Bay (No. 29) – An instant impact player who's been one of the most productive defensive performers in the league over the past five years and has started all but two games for the Pack. "Instant impact player" was last uttered in Detroit to describe Night Train Lane in 1952 (11 picks as a rookie).
Detroit drafted WR Roy Williams (No. 7 overall) – He's one receiver who hasn't been a complete disaster for Detroit, but his four-year numbers of 245 catches for 3,652 yards and 28 TDs won't make anybody forget about Jerry Rice or, hell, Johnnie Morton, Brett Perriman or Herman Moore.
Sadly, Millen picked Williams with these guys still on the board:
DeAngelo Hall, CB, Atlanta (No. 8) – An impact defensive player who's recorded 17 picks in his four-year career with two Pro Bowl appearances. Imagine the tandem of Dre Bly and Hall manning the corners for Detroit! Oh, that's right, Bly was traded after a rare pair of Pro Bowl seasons in Detroit ... and Millen passed on Hall.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh (No. 11) – This is the nut-kicker of all nut-kickers, Detroit, as Millen took Little Roy with Big Ben still on the board. He's a Super Bowl champion and Pro Bowler with historic efficiency numbers and a rapidly expanding Hall of Fame resume. To put the dearth of quarterbacking in Detroit into perspective, Bobby Layne remains the team's all-time passing leader (15,710 yards) ... yet last threw a pass for the Lions in 1958. Hey, it's a golden anniversary year!
Jonathan Vilma, LB, NY Jets (No. 12) – A big-time tackling machine who won 2004 Defensive Rookie of the Year honors and reached the Pro Bowl in 2005. There isn't a team in football today who wouldn't take Vilma over Williams ... except maybe Detroit.
Tommie Harris, DT, Chicago
(No. 14) – A force in the middle of the Chicago defense, as evidenced by his three Pro Bowls and two All-Pro selections. He even won the Ed Block Courage Award
here in 2008. Matt Millen won the Block Head Idiot Award in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007.
Shawn Andrews, G, Philadelphia
(No. 16) – A fulltime starter each of the past two years, earning Pro Bowl nods in 2006 and 2007 and All-Pro honors in 2006. Detroit's last Pro Bowl guard was John Gordy in 1965
Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis (No. 24) – The heir to Marshall Faulk's all-purpose throne boasts three 1,000-yard seasons on the ground and a monster 2,334 yards from scrimmage in 2006 – which would have fallen just 24 yards shy of the Detroit franchise record set by Barry Sanders in 1997.
Detroit drafted WR Mike Williams (No. 10 overall) – Raced out of the gates in true Lions fashion with 29 catches for 350 yards and 1 TD in is rookie year. He followed up with a spectacular eight catches for 99 yards in 2006 before being shipped off to the Raiders – two years too late.
His exalted Pigskin Potentate left these guys on the board:
DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Dallas (No. 11) – Looks like Detroit just missed on Ware, who was taken one pick after Williams. He's an instant impact player for the Cowboys, with 33.5 sacks in three years and only getting better.
Shawne Merriman, OLB, San Diego (No. 12) – Ahh, Detroit just missed this one, too. The monstrous OLB has chalked up 39.5 sacks in 42 games, including a league-leading 17 (in 12 games) in 2006 with three All-Pro nods. He was the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2005. Detroit boasts a Defensive Rookie of the Year, too: Al Baker back in 1978.
Jammal Brown, T, New Orleans (No. 13) – He's started 43 of 48 games at LT, with two Pro Bowl nods. Detroit's entire cast of offensive linemen boasts one Pro Bowl nod over the last 10 seasons.
Marcus Spears, DE, Dallas (No. 20) – Sadly, Dallas picked up two defensive studs after Detroit blew its pick on Williams. Spears has started 42 straight games for Dallas.
Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh (No. 30) – A building block on Pittsburgh's offense, with 120 catches and 18 TDs in three years, while missing just one start.
Logan Mankins, G, New England (No. 32) – An animal on the offensive line who's started all 48 games in his career. Earned All-Pro honors in 2007 while helping lead the most productive offense in NFL history, a team that outscored the 2007 Lions by 243 points.
Detroit drafted LB Ernie Sims (No. 9 overall) – Naturally, the lone No. 1 pick of the Matt Millen Era devoted to defense proved to be Detroit's best draft selection in years. He's proved one of the best young linebackers in football today.
Detroit drafted WR Calvin Johnson (No. 2 overall) – Johnson had a fairly productive season by the standards of rookie wide receivers, catching 48 passes for 756 yards and 4 TDs.
Joe Thomas, T, Cleveland (No. 3) – Instant impact player who started all 16 games and earned Pro Bowl honors as a rookie. If only Millen knew what an offensive line was.
Gaines Adams, DE, Tampa Bay (No. 4) – Six sacks as a rookie, which would have put him one behind Shaun Rogers for the lead on the Lions last year.
LaRon Landry, S, Washington (No. 6) – Started all 16 games with 95 tackles, which would have been tops among DBs in Detroit last year.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota (No. 7) – Exploded onto the scene with a mind-boggling 5.6 YPA and Rookie of the Year honors. Millen must have figured, "Hey, the Lions couldn't win anything with Barry Sanders ... what's Peterson going to do for us?"
Amobi Okoye, DT, Houston
(No. 10) – Netted just 32 tackles and a nice 5.5 sacks. But Okoye was just 7 years old when he was drafted by Houston last year. Actually, he was 19. He'll be just 21 when the 2008 season gets underway and has so much potential the Pentagon is trying to harness it to power the USS Gerald Ford
(named, ironically, for another stumbling Michigan resident
Patrick Willis, MLB, San Francisco (No. 11) – The pairing of Willis and Ernie Sims (the one smart draft pick of Millen's career) would have given the Lions the best young linebacking tandem in football. Willis crushed everything in his path in 2007, with 174 tackles, Defensive Rookie of the Year and All-Pro honors. Millen crushed every hope in Detroit since taking over the Lions in 2001.
Darrelle Revis, CB, NY Jets (No. 14) – Instantly found his way in the starting line-up with 87 tackles, 17 passes defended and 3 picks, an INT mark which would have tied for the team lead in Detroit last year (Keith Smith).
Leon Hall, CB, Cincinnati (No. 18) – Recorded 5 picks on top of 68 tackles in 10 starts last year. But hey, the Lions had Keith Smith.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City (No. 23) – Despite playing for one of the worst offenses in football, Bowe outpaced Detroit's WR pick Johnson in every category, with 70 catches for 995 yards and 5 TD.
Jon Beason, MLB, Carolina (No. 25) – If not for Willis, Beason might have been the rookie defensive story of the year in the NFL, with 140 tackles and 1 pick. He, too, could have joined Ernie Sims as part of a scary-good young LB corps in Detroit around which to build a playoff-caliber defense.
Greg Olsen, TE, Chicago (No. 31) – Primarily a back-up, but Olsen still made all-rookie teams with 39 catches for 391 yards and 2 TD. Compare those numbers to Detroit's top tight end last year, Sean McHugh: 17 catches for 252 yards and 0 TD. You lose again, Millen.