The Detroit Lions cut TJ Jones on Saturday, making Jones the latest wide receiver drafted by the Lions to come and go without making much of an impact with the team at all.
In the 2000s, this became a common joke under former general manager Matt Millen. The Lions infamously drafted a wide receiver in the first round of the draft in back-to-back-to-back years. Two of those players — Charles Rogers and Mike Williams — flamed out quickly with neither playing anywhere near to the hype. The third, Roy Williams, was a decent player and the Lions got quite the hefty compensation when they traded him in the middle of his fifth season. Still, just three years after spending their third straight first rounder on a wide receiver, the Lions found themselves without all three.
Things haven’t gotten any better since the Matt Millen days. Though Millen left Martin Mayhew, the subsequent general manager, with a nice parting gift in Calvin Johnson, Mayhew failed to build on the team’s receiver depth through the draft during his entire reign as GM.
Here’s a look at all of the Lions’ wide receiver draft picks since drafting Calvin Johnson:
2008: Fifth round, Kenny Moore
2009: Third round, Derrick Williams
2010: Seventh round, Tim Toone
2011: Second round, Titus Young
2012: Second round, Ryan Broyles
2013: Sixth round, Corey Fuller
2014: Sixth round, TJ Jones
Of those seven draft picks from the last eight years, none of them are on the Lions’ 2016 53-man roster. Corey Fuller could potentially rejoin the team if he’s lifted from the PUP list after Week 6, but that seems unlikely at this point.
While Mayhew wasn’t missing on first-round picks like Millen did, he failed to get any long-term production out of two second-round picks, a third rounder and several late-round selections. Of those seven picks, only one had more than 35 career receptions (Titus Young). Six of the seven had two or fewer career touchdowns, and only one of them ever played a single down for another team after their career in Detroit was done (Kenny Moore). Here’s the average career stats of all seven players combined:
16.7 games played, 3.9 starts, 22.3 receptions, 281 receiving yards, 2.0 touchdowns.
These misses in the draft aren’t as egregious as the mistakes Millen made, but they are bad nonetheless. The Lions will enter the 2016 season with zero receivers on the roster that they drafted.
The good news for Detroit is current general manager Bob Quinn has yet to draft a wide receiver. Will he be able to draft better receivers than the two general managers before him? The bar isn’t set too high.