Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, had one of the most remarkable seasons for an NFL receiver in league history in his 2011-12 campaign. He ranked among the top four receivers in receptions, yards, touchdowns and plays of over 25 yards. He became the first wide receiver ever to score nine touchdowns through the first five weeks of the season. In his last three games, “Megatron” gained 560 yards and scored four touchdowns. His efforts led the Lions to their first playoff appearance in over a decade. And while they lost the Wild Card match-up against Drew Brees and the Saints, Johnson left a lasting imprint in his playoff debut, compiling 12 receptions, 200-plus receiving yards and two touchdowns. All of these individual accolades were enough for his NFL peers to rank him as one of the top three players in the game today.
This past week, Calvin Johnson was voted number three on “The Top 100: Players of 2012” by NFL network. This prestigious list is released every year prior to the season and voted on by NFL players. Johnson, the highest non-quarterback on the list, was voted third behind Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, who was number one overall.
Among his NFL peers with the highest praise were some of the league’s best defensive backs. “He is by far the biggest combination of strength, speed, size and athleticism that’s ever come around. I can’t even think of a guy that’s even close to be honest with you,” said Ronde Barber, 3-time First-Team All-Pro selection.
Brandon Flowers, cornerback for the Kansas City Chiefs, noticed the improvement in Johnson’s game since making it to the NFL. “I faced him in college but you can tell coming to the NFL that he mastered his craft and got a lot better, a lot smarter. He can come out of breaks like a 6’ receiver.”
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, cornerback for the Philadelphia Eagles, even felt that Johnson was rated too low at the number three spot. “Number one overall to me in the league, a lot of people want to say quarterbacks, but I like Calvin Johnson.”
Maybe the highest praise of all came from Larry Fitzgerald. Prior to last year, the Arizona Cardinals receiver was regarded as the number one receiver in the game. “It’s not going to be pretty what he (Calvin Johnson) does to the record books. He doesn’t have any physical weaknesses, you look at him, he runs good routes, he can run by anybody, he’s quick enough to separate from guys in intermediate routes, he’s got amazing ball skills, and now he’s playing with unbelievable confidence.”
By Brian Law