Nate Burleson knows Titus Young is heir apparent


Training camp is finally almost here. They allow tackling there and everything. Around the League will count down the top 30 position battles to watch throughout the preseason.

No. 11. Detroit Lions WR: Nate Burleson vs. Titus Young

• You have to hand it to Burleson: Not many wide receivers set a career high in receptions after their 30th birthday. But that's what he managed in 2011, providing Matthew Stafford with a security blanket when Calvin Johnson wasn't doing his Megatron thing.

Top 30 training camp position battles

No. 30: Seahawks running backs
No. 29: Packers No. 3 receiver
No. 28: Broncos backup running back
No. 27: Bengals cornerbacks
No. 26: Raiders backup quarterback
No. 25: Cardinals receiver
No. 24: Jets right tackle
No. 23: Jets linebacker
No. 22: Redskins running back
No. 21: Giants No. 3 receiver
No. 20: Patriots receiver
No. 19: Colts tight end
No. 18: Rams receivers
No. 17: Jaguars quarterbacks
No. 16: Bears wide receivers
No. 15: NFL safety battles
No. 14: Jaguars No. 2 receiver
No. 13: Bears left tackle
No. 12: Randy Moss vs. Father time
No. 11: Lions receivers
No. 10: Cardinals running back
No. 9: Ravens pass rusher
No. 8: Dolphins quarterback
No. 7: Buccaneers running back
No. 6: Steelers defensive end
No. 5: Dolphins wide receiver
No. 4: Cardinals quarterback
No. 3: The Oakland Raiders
No. 2: Titans quarterback
No. 1: Seahawks quarterback

• Though he's played mostly in the slot with the Lions, Burleson still has the ability to work outside. He's an underrated receiver, and he's been that way for some time. There's a reason Stafford connected with him 73 times. He gets open.

• Young did himself no favors this spring when he got into an altercation with a teammate ... OK, he sucker-punched a teammate. But while the 23-year-old Young might lack maturity, he has more than enough talent to be a big-time NFL receiver. Young is a great vertical threat, with a good set of hands. He put up good numbers as a rookie -- 48 receptions for 607 yards and six scores -- and he could be in line to become a 1,000-yard receiver if he can keep his head on straight.

• Luckily for the Lions, Burleson will help Young with that straight-head stuff. Here's what he said when I spoke to him at last month: "I told Titus, I said, 'Look. There's no question that you're brought here to take my position. That's what you're brought here to do. And by the time I'm done, you should be ready to take that and you should be on your way to a new contract. And if you're not in those two positions, I don't think I did my job well enough.'"

Projected winner: Burleson will still see plenty of action in the slot, but this will be the year Young emerges as a top No. 2 in the league. All the tools are there, and he certainly has the right guidance. If he can stay on the right path, the Lions' offense will get even scarier.