Martin Mayhew says they won't stop looking for playmakers in the Detroit Lions passing game

Posted Jan 8, 2013

Mayhew said he loves surrounding quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Calvin Johnson with weapons, and that will never change.

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew admitted to beat writers last week that he loves wide receivers.

Maybe it’s because he spent his entire NFL career trying to stop them as a cornerback with both the Redskins and Buccaneers and knows first-hand how much the good ones can affect the game.

In particular, Mayhew said he loves surrounding quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Calvin Johnson with weapons, and that will never change.

“If those guys play and do well, then nobody complains about you drafting them,” Mayhew said. “Look at Green Bay: Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Greg Jennings and Randall Cobb, all of those guys were draft choices and they are all doing very well.”

Mayhew also used New Orleans as an example of an elite-caliber offense who built their receiving corps through the draft with players like Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, tight end Jimmy Graham and Lance Moore.

“They have a good quarterback and they put weapons out there for their quarterback,” he said.

“The way I look at it, when you have a quarterback like Matthew Stafford, you want to keep giving him weapons and that’s what we’re going to try and keep doing."

Mayhew said it didn’t matter if it was a receiver, tight end or running back who can catch passes out of the backfield, he’ll continue to look for players that can help Stafford be better, and the draft will continue to be a means at which he can accomplish that.

Dating back to 2009, when he took over fullt-time as general manager, Mayhew has drafted a receiver.

He spent a third-round pick on Derrick Williams in 2009, who was cut two years later, after he made just nine catches in 18 games with no touchdowns.

In 2010, he selected Tim Toone with the final pick in the draft. Toone was primarily a practice squad player and never appeared in a game for the team.

The Lions spent a second-round pick on Titus Young in 2011. It seemed Young was going to be a big contributor after catching 48 passes for 648 yards during and 6 touchdowns his rookie season. However, it didn't materialize that way this year.

Going into the 2011 draft, it was public knowledge that Young had character issues, but he made everyone forget about them with his success on the field. Those same issues started to rear their head last offseason, though, and continued through this regular season, culminating with Young’s dismissal from the team.

His season ultimately ended on injured reserve (knee).

Last April, the Lions used another second-round pick on Ryan Broyles, who was coming off a torn ACL in his left knee. Broyles was starting to come into his own midseason, but tore the ACL in his right knee against Indianapolis, just one week after recording his first career 100-yard game vs. Houston on Thanksgiving.

But despite the injury, Mayhew seems to have hit the mark with Broyles, who looks like he'll be a terrific slot receiver once healthy.

Outside of the draft, Mayhew also acquired receivers Bryant Johnson (2009) and Nate Burleson (2010) in free agency and traded for Mike Thomas at the deadline this year.

Johnson didn't pan out and only lasted two seasons.

Burleson has been a mainstay in the Lions offense and one of the team best leaders.

Thomas is looking forward to an offseason to be more of a contrinbutor next season.

Despite being decimated by injuries this season - Burleson, Broyles and Young, all ending on injured reserve - the Lions ranked second in the NFL in passing offense, and Johnson set an NFL single-season record with 1,964 receiving yards.

Depending on Young’s situation, the Lions could be in the market for an outside receiver because Burleson, Broyles and Thomas are more natural fits in the slot.

But even if Young plays for the Lions in 2012, Mayhew made it clear that he’ll never stop looking for playmakers on offense.

“That’s something we’re constantly focused on,” he said. “How can we help (Stafford and Johnson) make more plays and I’m not going to stop being focused on that.”