Johnson and Burleson have formed a good one-two tandem on the outside for the Lions the last two seasons, but they took two different paths to get into the league and to this point in their careers.
Johnson was considered the best player available in the 2007 draft but fell to the Lions at No. 2 when the Raiders selected quarterback JaMarcus Russell No. 1 overall. "Just that experience, aw man, it was surreal getting to go to New York," Johnson remembers of his draft-day experience. "You've seen it in past years leading up to it. Being able to sit in that green room, and do those things you see, but never thought you'd be there. "To be there is a real blessing and thinking back to that, I'm glad it's over because it was a big hassle that year."
Burleson's draft-day experience was a bit different. He was the ninth receiver taken in the 2003 draft and had to wait until the third round to hear his name called. "I wasn't invited to New York," Burleson said. "I was at home, threw a small, little get-together with the family. I was told I could go anywhere from late first to fourth round, so obviously I was thinking late first.
"But yeah, Round 1 and 2 went by, and I dozed off and took a nap. And everybody's kind of waiting, and I got a phone call from the Minnesota Vikings, and it was Coach (Mike) Tice. As soon as the phone rang everybody in the room stopped, looked at me and he said, 'Are you ready to be a Viking?' "I didn't know if I was dreaming or not because I had just woke up. I had crust in my eyes. I walked outside and I said, 'Yes, sir.' And that was the beginning of my career, 2003. I was young. I was 21, I don't even think I had a mustache yet. I was a baby."
As both Johnson and Burleson have proven through their careers, it doesn't much matter how a player enters the NFL, rather what they do with the opportunity.
Of the eight receivers taken before Burleson in 2003, only Andre Johnson (Texans) and Anquan Boldin (Ravens) have had as much of an impact in their NFL careers as Burleson. Johnson has lived up to his high draft selection and then some, where others did not (i.e. Charles Rogers).
As for this year's draft, Burleson said he doesn't pay too much attention to it and is just hoping the Lions select the best athlete available. Johnson said he'll watch a little bit, but can never watch the whole thing. "I assume we'll try to beef up the defense a little bit, I don't know, we'll see," Johnson said.