Calvin Johnson has had injuries that cost him five games the past two seasons. There have been questions about whether or not he would still be able to perform at the level he’s been at throughout his career – meaning the best receiver in the NFL.
According to our panel of writers, there is no question he will at least be able to contend for that spot.
Johnson was the No. 6 overall player in the 2015 NFL player rankings by ESPN, tying him with Dallas’ Dez Bryant with an average vote of 93.66 points on a 1 to 100 scale.
Johnson, Bryant and Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown were three receivers in the top 10 – and the accolade for Johnson fits with his career arc. In essentially 11 games last season (he played in 13, but was hobbled in two of them), he had 71 catches for 1,077 yards and eight touchdowns.
Those numbers still put him in the top 15 wide receivers in the league, even though he missed over a quarter of the season. There will be a lot of attention paid to Johnson and his health/production throughout the 2015 season, but if his training camp performance is any indication, he should be absolutely fine.
Johnson has been healthy and looking like his pre-injury self throughout training camp.
He is one of three Lions players in the top 100, joined by linebacker DeAndre Levy and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Both were tied as the No. 89 players in the NFL. It’s an interesting spot for both players to be in, as Levy is entering his prime as one of the top 4-3 outside linebackers in the league while Ngata may be hitting his decline as one of the top run-stuffing tackles in the NFL.
That both are in the top 100, though, give an idea of what could be two of the most important pieces of the Lions' defense.
I was not surprised to see Levy on the list – actually thought he might be a touch higher, but his position sometimes goes overlooked. I was somewhat surprised to see Ngata on there, mostly because no one has seen him really play with the Lions yet.
Of the Lions who didn’t make the list – Golden Tate, Glover Quin and Larry Warford were the most surprising omissions. Tate and Emmanuel Sanders were the top receivers from last season’s yardage and receptions list to not be in the top 100. Both were in the top 10 in both categories. Frankly, Tate should have been on the list somewhere.
Quin was a Pro Bowler last year and led the NFL in interceptions, but he also plays a position that can sometimes be overlooked. Warford had a down year from his rookie campaign and played on an offensive line that struggled, so that omission makes sense.