Tim and Mike: Who's more valuable, Calvin Johnson or Adrian Peterson?

Posted Jun 12, 2013

Tim and Mike discuss whether Johnson would have been their No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft, Pro Football Talk's Lions Mt. Rushmore and first observations from the team's first of three mini-camp practices

This week's four-course breakfast buffet has a lot to chew on, and the 2007 draft is the main course.

Top pick JaMarcus Russell worked out for the Bears last week. Pro Football Weekly posed the question of whether Lions receiver Calvin Johnson is more valuable than Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

Meanwhile, the Lions are having their mandatory mini-camp this week, and following Thursday's practice, the players are on their own until the start of training camp.

Start with Megatron and AP. Who's more valuable?

Calvin JohnsonWR Calvin Johnson (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

Mike: It depends on when you ask me. Ask me if I want a receiver on third and eight, or second and 16, and I'll take Megatron every time. Ask me on first and goal at the three, or fourth and one, and I'll take any great runner -– and Peterson is the best in the game now.

If longevity and durability are part of the equation, the answer leans toward the receiver. A great receiver can be productive longer than a running back can because the receiver doesn't take as many big hits.

Bottom line: overall, my pick is Calvin Johnson, but I wouldn't sob my eyes out if I were forced to take Peterson.

Tim: Can you really go wrong either way? I think when it's all said and done, Peterson will hold the all-time rushing record and Calvin Johnson will be right there with some of Jerry Rice's career marks. They are the two best non-quarterbacks in the league today.

Johnson makes the most sense for this offense, though. Scott Linehan's offense is wide open and predicated on the pass. Johnson is the perfect compliment to a young, big-armed quarterback like Stafford and they've become one of the best duos in the league.

Look, I'm not sad either way, but for this offense, Johnson probably fits better and will be doing it longer.

If the Lions would have had the No. 1 pick in 2007, would Calvin Johnson have still been their pick?

Mike: Realistically, and practically, that question answers itself. Russell was the only player off the board, and the Lions took Johnson with the second pick. They never would have taken Russell – and the Raiders shouldn't have, either.

Obviously, there were other players the Lions liked, and Peterson was one of them. The only issue with him was injury concerns. He had a broken collarbone at Oklahoma.

If the Raiders had done the right thing and drafted Johnson, I think the Lions would have gone for Peterson. Mike Martz, then the offensive coordinator, wanted a playmaker, and he carried a lot of weight in personnel decisions. And he wasn't afraid to swing his weight.

On its own, the 2007 draft had a star quality that has not been matched in the last decade – except for quarterbacks. Five players drafted in 2007 are considered the best at their positions – Calvin Johnson, offensive tackle Joe Thomas, Adrian Peterson, middle linebacker Patrick Willis and cornerback Darrelle Revis.

Who would you have picked if Johnson were off the board?

Tim: It's easy now to say Patrick Willis or Darrelle Revis would have been in the mix at No. 2 after the careers they've had thus far, but I don't think they would have been in the conversation at No. 2 back in 2007.

If Johnson were gone, it would have probably come down to Peterson and Thomas.

The Lions already had Jeff Backus, but if I was GM, I probably would have gone with Thomas anyway and moved one of them (probably Backus) to the right side. The best way to build a team is from the inside out -- after you get the quarterback, of course.

Lions Mt. Rushmore(L-R: Bobby Layne, Calvin Johnson, Barry Sanders, Alex Karras)

Pro Football Talk released its Detroit Lions Mt. Rushmore Monday, and to some debate. On their mountain were: Barry Sanders, Calvin Johnson, Bobby Layne and Alex Karras.

Did they get it right?

Mike: That's a joke, right?

No, they didn't get it right. I could put five players ahead of Karras without thinking very long – Lem Barney, Night Train Lane, Dick LeBeau, Yale Lary and Jack Christiansen – and they're all Hall of Fame defensive backs.

There's no way Joe Schmidt is not on the Lions' Mt. Rushmore along with Barry Sanders, Bobby Layne and Calvin Johnson.

In fact, Joe Schmidt is the greatest Lion ever – a Hall of Fame middle linebacker, two-time champion and later head coach of a Lions team that made the playoffs in 1970.

Alex Karras was an outstanding defensive tackle, but not an all-time great.

Someone must have gotten confused by his role in Blazing Saddles.

Tim: The Alex Karras vote threw me off, too. He's a great player, but that picks smells to me like someone was adding post-playing-day accomplishments into the mix and not sticking to football.

When it comes to football, Joe Schmidt is the better choice. He might be the best defensive player to have ever put on a Lions uniform.

My list goes: Barry Sanders, Calvin Johnson, Joe Schmidt and Bobby Layne.

I thought it was interesting that Jason Hanson didn't even get on the list of candidates. He'll be honored as a Lions all-time great sometime this fall. I know he's a kicker, but he was a darn good one.

The Lions did start their mandatory three-day mini-camp Tuesday. First-day impressions?

Mike: One thing? You must be kidding. No such thing as one thing, one more, one anything with me.

Ryan Broyles running some plays with the offense stood out. His recovery from knee surgery must be ahead of schedule. (If he were Robert Griffin III, it would be a three-part series on SportsCenter).

Some other things: Matthew Stafford not getting worked up talking about his contract status; Rookie Darius Slay's two picks. Riley Reiff looking so much bigger than last year. Reggie Bush looking like he's already set for a big year. And Steven Miller, an undrafted rookie from Appalachian State, showing his speed.

More to come, right?

Tim: You left that bone pretty dry, Mike. Obviously, Broyles stood out, which is why I wrote about it yesterday.

Steven MillerRB Steven Miller (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

The fact that Louis Delmas remains out is a blow for this team. It makes you a little more glad for Glover Quin and the fact that Don Carey came on pretty strong last year.

I think the teams' length has stood out, too. I'm seeing so many more batted balls at the line of scrimmage this year and longer cornerbacks getting their hands on footballs. It's not as easy for the offense to make plays as it was in year's past.

Not only does Reiff look bigger, but so does Jason Fox and Dominic Raiola. In general, the Lions just look like a bigger, stronger football team as a whole.