Titus Young vs. Randall Cobb: Who Is the More Explosive Second-Year Player?

Andrew Garda@andrew_gardaFeatured ColumnistMay 24, 2012

My first thought was: Titus Young, surely! He has the most devastating uppercut in the league!

OK, so cheap jokes aside, Young starts this battle a bit behind because his status is up in the air. Head Coach Jim Schwartz doesn't want to talk about it, so we have next to no idea how long he's gone, how official it is or what it means for his future role on the team.

Luckily for him, Ryan Broyles is still rehabbing with no timetable for his return to the field. So he won't lose his job to the rookie by missing practice, unless he lost his job to his left hook.

For this exercise, though, let's assume he still has a job to hold onto.

Both players are very similar. Both explode off the line but lack elite speed, have great hands and are dangerous after the catch. Cobb and Young both had concerns coming out of college about their size and frame—so far Young has battled some injuries (though not seriously) while Cobb has not.

On the other hand, Young has had a bigger role than Cobb, as he has already established himself as the No. 3 option, whereas Cobb was mostly on kick and punt returns.

In terms of opportunity, Young certainly starts off with the advantage. Even if he isn't at OTAs, with rookie Ryan Broyles still rehabbing, the job is Young's to lose.

Cobb will have to wrest the No. 3 gig from James Jones, though I don't believe that to be impossible. Jones is terribly inconsistent, and last year was leapfrogged by Jordy Nelson after having finished 2010 as the No. 2 receiver in terms of targets and stats.

Cobb is a more dynamic player than Jones and once we get into the season, I believe we will see a shift in his direction.

Of course beyond Cobb and Jones, there is also Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley.

Young has to compete with Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Broyles and Brandon Pettigrew. While Johnson is the best receiver we'll mention in this column, Burleson and Broyles aren't the same quality as the Green Bay receivers.

There are less mouths to feed in Detroit. The stats back it up—Young was the third most targeted player on the Lions in 2011 with 93 passes thrown his direction. Cobb had 34 and was buried in the pecking order.

While Cobb has made a few odd decisions, he hasn't cost his team yards on the field  as Young has. There were concerns about Young's character during the 2011 draft process and one has to wonder if the Lions might be rethinking some of their analysis on him.

On the other hand, that whole team makes the same bad decisions on the field, so it's unlikely he's the one who pays unless he pulls what he did last week on the field.

And even then, you have to wonder.

Both will have tremendous quarterbacks throwing the ball, and doing so often.

In terms of ability, I believe both to be very good players. While Young has some issues with his maturity, it's something which can be worked out.

Young has the advantage this season and will have the more explosive second year because of it. I like Cobb a ton—as I said before, he will be the better player long term.

However, this year will belong to Young.