When the Detroit Lions drafted wide receiver Titus Young out of Boise State in April, they essentially knew exactly what they were getting.
Young is an undersized receiver with tremendous speed and great hands. The Lions wanted to add another vertical threat to their offensive arsenal in an effort to deter the opposition from focusing on Calvin Johnson.
Although the Lions had clear expectations, Young’s transition to the NFL has required some time, and some adapting.
Beyond missing the majority of training camp and the preseason, the biggest change for the 22 year old has been accepting a role that isn’t on top of the depth chart.
“Coming from college you’re the number one receiver basically every play so every play is like a time to score,” said Young. “So now I feel like I just have to adapt to my role. It’s really the adaptation that I’m struggling with. Ever since I was younger, I was always the number one target so I just have to keep on adapting and in the NFL you just got to earn your stripes.”
Young spent his collegiate career as a member of the Boise State Broncos, catching over 200 passes and 25 touchdowns. In 2010, his last collegiate season, he had 71 receptions for 1,215 yards and nine touchdowns.
During the first half of his rookie season, Young has hauled in 19 passes for 275 yards and one score, respectable numbers for a rookie receiver, but modest production when contrasted to Young’s personal standards.
Still, Young’s role on the team continues to grow in unison with the rookie receiver’s own development.
When the Lions move to three-receiver sets, Young has been playing the split-end position, generally lining up opposite Johnson with receiver Nate Burleson in the slot.
Young’s experience playing that position will help him develop into a starting receiver, a role the Lions envision for the player they selected with the 44th overall pick.
As Young develops, he is surrounded by two outstanding mentors in Johnson and Burleson.
“This is probably the biggest blessing I’ve had so far in life as far as relationships,” said Young. “I feel like God put those people in my life for a reason and put me in their life for a reason and I feel like iron sharpens iron and I’d definitely say Calvin and Nate are iron and I’m iron too.”
Wide receiver is one of the more difficult positions to adapt to in the NFL for rookies but Young has outstanding teachers around him as well as the talent and desire to succeed.
The Lions envisioned a starting receiver when they nabbed Young earlier this year. And all evidence to this point has suggested another strong draft selection by the franchise.