As we know, Johnson went on to become one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history and he was recently inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But what if Johnson was off the board when the Lions were on the clock at No. 2?
Would they have decided to take QB Jamarcus Russell out of LSU?
Well, according to former Lions team president Tom Lewand, the Lions not only would have passed on Russell, but they actually kicked him out of their building during a pre-draft interview.
“We knew we wanted Calvin [Johnson] at No. 2,” said Tom Lewand, former President of the Detroit Lions. “We didn’t know who [Oakland Raiders owner] Al Davis was going to take at No. 1. We hoped he was going to take Jamarcus Russell, but we didn’t know. When we had Jamarcus in for a pre-draft interview, it was the worst interview—bar-none—I’ve ever sat in. He was looking at his watch the whole time, completely disinterested. He didn’t want to be there, and we actually kicked him out of the building.
Lewand added that if the Raiders would have taken Calvin Johnson with the No. 1 overall pick, the Lions were split on who they would select.
“Our GM at the time, Matt Millen, actually picked up the phone and called Al Davis and told him about it—’don’t draft this guy. He’s going to kill your franchise.’ I looked at him, like, ‘what are you doing?! You’re just asking him to take Calvin!’ If the Raiders had taken Calvin, we were split. One group wanted Adrian Peterson another wanted an available pass rusher, specifically Gaines Adams. That was one of the few times, we had any kind of uncertainty like that.”
Nation, are you glad the Lions ended up with Calvin Johnson or would you rather they ended up with Adrian Peterson?