ALLEN PARK -- The Lions raised some eyebrows in April when - for the third consecutive season - they used their first-round draft pick to take a wide receiver.
The three are Charles Rogers, taken second overall in 2003; Roy Williams,
who went seventh in the 2004 draft; and, finally, Mike Williams, the No. 10
pick last spring.
Did they really need another wide receiver more than they needed an
offensive tackle? Would Steve Mariucci really use three- and four-receiver
sets enough to utilize all three first-rounders? Weren't the Lions devoting
too much of their salary cap to one position?
Nevertheless, the prevailing thought was that Mariucci had indicated he
would make adjustments in his relatively conservative West Coast offense,
that the Lions would be making better use of their receivers on deeper
throws and - besides that - Mike Williams was the player they deemed to be
the best available at No. 10.
Two weeks into the new season, however, some of those questions are being
raised again. The Lions have struggled offensively (29th in the NFL), the
contributions from the receivers have been modest and the Lions' defense has
been hot (against Green Bay) and cold (at Chicago).
Among them, the three first-round picks have 12 receptions in two games -
seven for Roy Williams, four for Charles Rogers and one for Mike Williams.
The numbers are not impressive, obviously, but it is not just the numbers
that are causing the concern. Roy Williams was described by Fox analyst Troy
Aikman as running routes like he had nails in his shoes. Rogers has had
difficulty getting off the line of scrimmage and getting separation. Mike
Williams, who spent training camp learning all four receiver jobs, is still
trying to get a toehold on a job.
Furthermore, the offensive line has struggled to give quarterback Joey Harrington the protection he needs and to open the holes they expected to
provide for running back Kevin Jones.
If the Lions are yet to make something of the 2005 season, they're going
to need more help than they are getting so far from their three first-round
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