HEIGHT: 6' 0"
HOMETOWN: DAYTON, OH
STATS: 68 CATCHES, 1,137 YARDS 9 TDS
HEIGHT: 6' 3"
HOMETOWN: MATTESON, IL
STATS: 47 CATCHES, 595 YARDS, 7 TDS
(ALLEN PARK) - Everyone knows the Detroit Lions have a free agency wish list that goes like this: a corner (likely Ahmed Plummer or Antoine Winfield), a guard (likely Damien Woody or Chris Villarral with Ruben Brown also a possibility and a wide receiver.
But who is that receiver going to be?
Will it be former San Francisco 49er wide out Tai Streets, a former University of Michigan standout who has a proven track record for Lions head coach Steve Mariucci or will it be former Seahawks wide out Darrell Jackson, a two-time 1,000 yard receiver who is one of the top deep threats in the game.
While these are two of the "prettier" candidates in the free agent beauty contest, both have a few warts that mar their appearance.
Jackson availability on the free agent market is due in large part to a problem catching the football. While no one questions his ability to get open and his speed on the flanks, the Seahawks nearly called in a psychiatrist to deal with Jackson's problem holding on to the football.
Over a stretch of three games this past season, Jackson dropped eight passes and fourteen over a 10-game period.
"I put together a tape, and we are going to review it", Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said at mid-season, "of the catches Darrell hasn't made this year and see if we can come up with something to help him."
Some point to lingering effects of a concussion that Jackson suffered in a game against Dallas in 2002 - one that resulted in his suffering a seizure - as a reason for his drops, but Jackson dropped six balls in the first three preseason games before suffering the injury.
Despite the drops, Jackson is expected to be the number one receiver on the free agent market after both Terrell Owens of San Francisco and Dennis Northcutt of Cleveland failed to file the proper paperwork to void their contracts and point to Jackson compiling nearly 4,000 receiving yards in the last four years.
If the Lions didn't want to part with the money it would take to sign Champ Bailey to a long term deal, what can they expect it would take to sign Jackson?
Sources point to the deals signed by free agents Laveraneues Coles of Washington and Peerless Price of Atlanta. Coles got $35 million over seven years with a staggering $13 million up front. Price got a $10 million bonus and $42 million over seven years. Jackson's stats are better than either of those players.
Then there's the question of where Jackson fits. If he becomes the big play flanker, is Charles Rogers - who took four months to heal from a broken collarbone injury that was expected to take only six weeks - strong enough to play the split end position?
That leads directly to Tai Streets, the Illinois native who was a favorite of Steve Mariucci in San Francisco. Streets would come much cheaper and would appear to be a better fit.
He has already played the split end position in the West Coast offense and would allow Rogers to be the star that they Lions paid for when they drafted him 2nd overall and gave him a bonus-baby contract.
Streets suffered from problems in his legs which some felt hindered his production at the end of the 2003 season.
The problem was originally diagnosed by the 49ers medical staff as bilateral tendonitis in his knees. However, agent Ralph Cindrich said that the problems in Streets' legs were calcium deposits and after three treatments at the Cleveland Clinic, he is cured.
He has not missed a game over the last four years, a testament to his willingness to play hurt and through pain, something that a few of the Lions current wide receiving corps have refused to do.
While Streets has not been as productive as Jackson, he seems to be a better fit and more consistent in moving the chains. Those are the qualities the Lions need most.
PICK: Tai Streets over Darrell Jackson.