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The Lions are stuck in the same rut more or less that they were in during the mid’90’s with Barry Sanders and Herman Moore. Teams that were always on the cusp of greatness but somehow fell short. Those ’90’s teams had three glaring problems. The first was there was no talent at the quarterback position. They went through a plethora of quaterbacks among them Scott Mitchell, Andre Ware, Charlie Batch. The second problem was there was never a “second receiving threat opposite” Herman Moore. Johnnie Morton was a solid option but he never seemed to be quite good enough to me thus the non threat appelation. The third problem was the poor offensive line that Barry Sanders was running behind. Now there are major differences between this team and those teams. Firstly Matthew Stafford is far more talented than any of the quarterbacks that played for the Lions in the ’90’s. The problem with Stafford is he is undisciplined and turns the ball over too much. The Lions with the Bush/Bell tandem have finally put together a respectable running game behind a good offensive line.
The third point that a legitimate number two receiver is needed let’s take a look at the three number two’s in question. Johnnie Morton played eight seasons for the Lions and has 469 receptions this is more than adequate for what you want from a number two. Now let’s compare the man who left to the man who is coming in. Nate Burleson joined the Lions in his 8th season in the league. Burleson has played the last four seasons for the Lions he played 45 games of 64 possible games with 194 receptions. Burleson was targeted 292 times, for a 66% completion rate, in other words Burleson caught two out of every three passes thrown to him. In the same time Golden Tate in Seattle has played 58 games of 64 possible games with 165 receptions. Tate was targeted 262 times, for a 62% completion rate. So Tate and Burleson are fairly evenly matched. Now signing Tate vs resigning Burleson is good move simply because Tate is younger.
If Jim Caldwell can get Stafford to clean up his game. I think that Johnson, Tate will make a better one two punch than Johnson, Burleson. With that said I think that without Tate, the Lions would absolutely have to draft a wide receiver with the tenth pick in this years draft. With Tate the need to draft a wide receiver that high is just not there. Don’t get me wrong I think that the Lions need to draft a wide receiver, because frankly I don’t se Kris Durham or Kevin Ogletree as legitimate threats in the number three slot.