An interesting conversation I got into yesterday ended with me in a debate on if Stevie Johnson is an elite talent. I'm curious to see what everyone here thinks which prompted this post. So is Stevie truly elite? Let's discuss further.
Elite. It's a word that seems to be used a lot. So what does elite mean? In sports terms elite means the best or most skilled members of a group. An elite player is said to make the players around him better. When talking about elite wide receivers we know the names that come up: Calvin Johnson, AJ Green, Larry Fitzerald, Andre Johnson and Wes Welker. Elite is the cream of the crop. Obviously there aren't many of them. So where does Stevie rank? His stats from last year put him 18th in yardage, tied for 34th in TDs, and caught 79 receptions on 148 targets. (All stats from ESPN) Now I know everyone grades players differently so I'll give you my grading scale before giving my opinion on Stevie.
Elite: Best of the best. Very few manage to make it into this category.
Great: Very excellent athletes. Not quite good enough to be elite but more than good enough to beat everyone else.
Good: Solid players who can make a big play here and there.
Mediocre: Your Fitz's of the world
Bad: Depth options at best. If these players are starting for your team you're in trouble.
Maybin: Laughably, almost vomit-inducing bad.
So that's six different categories on my scale. Like I mentioned earlier, your grading scale will probably look different. So where do I put Stevie at? I have him in the Great category with players like Roddy White, Steve Smith, DeSean Jackson and others. Not a bad category to be in. Now one thing that will undoubtedly be brought up is he has Fitz throwing him the ball. I do judge that as a handicap but not enough of one to claim he is elite. The next point will be how he beats Revis routinely. As great as his route running is. Gailey's play-calling also contributed him getting those yards. When defending the Spread offense defenses don't have the luxury of being able to double-team him. Elite WRs can routinely beat double coverage. Can Stevie do it? In my opinion he can't. Not all the time anyway. Now before someone calls me a Stevie "hater" be aware that he is one of my favorite players. I would LOVE to claim he is an elite player. However, I can see past the Bills colored glasses. He's a great player, but not elite. Maybe he can hit that elite level but that's a different debate altogether. I don't think his production equals elite. Could a better QB solve that? Who knows. So, here comes the poll. Tell me what you guys think: Is he elite in your eyes?
Edit: I'd like to give a little shout out to Fernando Brazil and Stetz. They're the ones who I had the discussion with and inspired me to write this.