The Lions should not keep veteran wide receiver Maurice Stovall on the final 53-man roster.
Detroit is expected, according to most members of the media, to keep six wide receivers on its final 53-man roster. The Lions currently have four of the spots locked up in wide receivers Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Titus Young and Ryan Broyles. If you know anything about math, you can clearly tell that there are two spots up for grabs. However, one of those spots is most likely going to be given to undrafted rookie free agent Patrick Edwards, out of University of Houston, because of his talented playmaking skills as a slot receiver and his tremendous ability to return kicks, which can be beneficial, should any of the Lions’ starting kick returners ever go down with an unforeseen injury.
That leaves the Lions’ potential sixth and final wide receiver spot on the depth chart available, but who deserves the opportunity to own it?
I don’t think that Maurice Stovall deserves that spot at all. The reasons why are blatantly clear.
Stovall does not help the Detroit Lions’ offense in any manner and is strictly a special teams ace at best. For Detroit last season, Stovall recorded one reception for eight yards, which, ultimately, means he is a nonfactor if any of Detroit’s top three wide outs go down with an injury, are suspended or are unable to dress on game day.
Although he is clearly the leader of the special teams, how much value can you place on Stovall’s leadership when he only hustles down to cover punts or tackle players on kickoffs? I applaud Stovall’s effort, especially after what he did last year, but the Lions cannot afford to keep a, “good job, good effort” player on the team this year because of how much depth the team has at other positions. The Lions are at a place where they are cutting players who are third- and fourth-string guys who could be starters for struggling teams like the Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals.
There is more value in the Lions keeping a key rotational player like defensive tackle Andre Fluellen, second-year linebacker Doug Hogue and rookie defensive end Ronnell Lewis instead of releasing them to keep a sixth receiver like Stovall to primarily play special teams.
The Lions should take a gamble and cut Stovall after the fourth preseason game and keep one of the “on the bubble” wide receivers who can be effective in the passing game, but can also come close to providing the production that Maurice Stovall does on special teams.
I support Stovall’s effort and on-the-field abilities to the fullest, but the Lions are at a different place than they were in 2009. Detroit no longer is content with adding players who are willing to sign with the franchise because said players wouldn’t be able to start for other NFL franchises. The Lions need to look at keeping players like wide receivers Nate Hughes, Lance Long, Dominique Curry and Jarett Dillard who are pretty much unknown in the NFL. Can these guys add value to both the passing game and the special teams squad? That is what the Lions need to figure out throughout the next two preseason games.
For now, it is safe to say that Maurice Stovall is a nonfactor in helping the Lions score touchdowns and, simply put, the Lions should invest in a player for that sixth wide receiver spot that can be a dangerous option for Matthew Stafford on the offense and also have the ability to hustle down the field and cover kicks for the special teams.