Detroit Lions Fans Should Temper Expectations for Titus Young and Other Rookies

Jay WierengaCorrespondent IAugust 9, 2011

ALLEN PARK, MI - AUGUST 01: Titus Young #16 of the Detroit Lions watches the morning drills unable to practice due to muscle tightness at the Lions training facility on August 1, 2011 in Allen Park, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Throughout this entire offseason, a sense of excitement has swept through the Detroit Lions nation.

Personally, I find this extremely refreshing, and it is nice to have a team that has garnered so many bandwagon fans.

One of the greatest things about it is that I can walk down the street with a Lions hat on and not be asked if I am trying to be ironic.

It is once again an exciting time to be a Lions fan, and with good reason.

The team returns nearly all of their significant pieces from last year, there is reason to believe that Matthew Stafford will remain upright and the defense could be a force to be reckoned with.

Not even the recent loss of rookie Mikel Leshoure can truly damper our moods, and with good reason. Rookies will not be significant contributors here or elsewhere this year.

I have gotten into many an argument with fans from teams like Atlanta and Carolina that insist that their teams got significantly better by adding playmaking rookies on offense.

Sure, in the future Julio Jones and Cam Newton may develop into playmakers. But not this year.

There are two significant reasons for this.

One, due to the lockout, these players are already way behind the eight ball education-wise. Remember, these guys are about two months behind where they should be, and this crash course that we will see over the next month is not going to replace that missed time.

The second reason, is that offensive players, especially skill players like wide receivers and quarterbacks are traditionally very slow starters.

Now this is not to say that they won't become stars down the road. But let's take a look at last year's pro bowl wideouts.

Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Chad Ochocinco, Vincent Jackson, Desean Jackson, Miles Austin, Steve Smith (NYG) and Roddy White.

Not one of those guys gained 1,000 yards as a rookie. In fact, only two of them, Jackson and Johnson, gained more than 500 yards as a rookie.

Obviously, nobody is calling Titus Young a pro bowler. So let's take a look at others drafted around where he was over the last few years and how they contributed off the bat.

Last year, Arrelious Benn was drafted 39th and had just under 400 yards.

Two years ago, Brian Robiskie was drafted 36th and had just over 100 yards.

Three years ago, Jordy Nelson and James Hardy were taken around this time, and combined for less than 500 yards.

And four years ago, Sidney Rice and Dwayne Jarrett were taken in the mid 40s and they combined for about 400 yards.

Of course, there are exceptions. Three years ago, both Jackson and Eddie Royal were mid second-round picks that each caught for over 900 yards.

But this goes back to the first point, those two had full training camps to get acclimated to the NFL game.

So while it is tempting to throw a lot of expectations on Young and his fellow rookies, it is hardly a smart move to do so.

So if Young ends up catching less than 20 passes for around 300 yards don't label him a bust; in fact, he will be right on course for what he should be contributing.

And who knows, he may just end up in the Hall of Fame (Michael Irvin and Cris Carter both failed to have big rookie years but managed to put up pretty good numbers in the end).