BuffalOkie Mondays: Stevie Johnson Continues to Be Underrated

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Updated: July 22, 2013
We're worried about this guy's weight lifting habits?

In the day and age of social media, blogs, and roughly 5,000 sports networks on television, I’ve come to grips with the fact that I’m going to come across an opinion or two that I disagree with.  Most of the time I can at least see the writer’s angle, respectfully disagree, and move on down the road.  But when I saw that NFL.com writer Chris Wesseling ranked Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson as the 28th best wideout in the league, I refused to accept that opinion.

I consider myself a very levelheaded sports fan.  I don’t drink the kool-aid much in regards to my teams, but I can say with certainty that there are not 27 receivers in the NFL that I’d take over Stevie.  No chance.

I understand that Johnson doesn’t belong in the top tier of NFL wideouts.  That category is reserved for the Calvin Johnson’s and A.J. Green’s of the world (No.’s 1 and 3, respectively, on Wesseling’s list).  But the tier right below that – the great-but-not-elite guys – is right where Stevie belongs.

Let’s look at the numbers: in 2012, Stevie ranked 18th in the NFL with 1,046 receiving yards and 13th among wideouts with 381 yards after catch, and that was anything but a breakout season.  Stevie has been a model of consistency, ranking in the top 20 in receiving yards in each of the last three seasons, and finishing as high as 11th in 2010.

Sadly, Wesseling had Stevie in the “Prove It” category of his rankings, which is outrageous when you consider the fact that Johnson has done nothing BUT prove that he deserves a much higher spot on that list.  In fact, in 2013 Johnson will gunning for his fourth straight 1,000-yard season.  I could try to explain to you how good that is, but I think I’ll just show you the list of guys trying to accomplish that feat:

Calvin Johnson

Brandon Marshall

Roddy White

Marques Colston

Stevie Johnson

While I will stick to my guns about Stevie not being elite, it’s apparent that he is keeping elite company when it comes to consistently performing at a high level.  And if you want to see some really meaningful stats, look no further than his numbers against the NFL’s top shutdown corner, former Jets and current Buccaneers CB Darrelle Revis.  In five career stays on Revis Island, Johnson has 24 catches for 317 yards (63.4 per game) and three touchdowns.

Keep in mind that Stevie has been posting these numbers despite the fact that defenses have been able to key on him every game.  Sure, David Nelson and Donald Jones were serviceable players, but they also allowed for defenses to cheat towards Stevie’s side of the field a bit.

That problem may finally come to an end in 2013.  The Bills believe they found a true No. 2 wide receiver in second-round draft pick Robert Woods, a Southern California product that earned the title of “Most NFL Ready” in this year’s WR class.  If Woods is indeed prepared to come in and produce, imagine the work that Stevie can do with more true one-on-one matchups.  Yes, the emergence of another stud wideout could possibly take some targets away from Stevie, but I think he, along with anyone in Western New York, would take that tradeoff.

Obviously quarterback play affects wide receiver play very directly, and the Bills still don’t know if it’s going to be Kevin Kolb or EJ Manuel leading the charge when the season begins, but whichever QB they choose will have the advantage of throwing to one of the best, yet underrated, receivers in the NFL.