Who would have thought that the Lions, who have taken Titus Young and Ryan Broyles in the second round in the past two drafts to pair with Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson, would be in the situation they are in now? Titus Young is no longer a Lion and Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles are recovering significant leg injuries, in Broyles case his second ACL tear, one on each knee, in the past two years.
Pair the injuries with the release of Titus Young and the lack of production from tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler and the Lions suddenly have an issue at the play-making positions on offense. Unless the team wants to spend one or multiple drafts picks, potentially high draft picks if they are looking for a starting caliber receiver, the Lions need to find a down the field threat to take advantage of the pressure Calvin Johnson faces on a weekly bases. Darrius Heyward-Bey could be the deep threat answer for the Lions with a career average of 14.8 yards per reception, a stat that should improve playing along side Calvin Johnson and a proven quarterback in Matthew Stafford.
At 6’2, 210 lbs DHB has the size the Lions will be looking for on the outside and the frame that should help him stay avoid injury. DHB’s size is great, but what would make him the perfect compliment to Calvin Johnson is his elite athleticism. Heyward-Bey was clocked as fast as 4.27 in the forty, he has a 38.5 inch vertical and has decent strength with 16 reps at the NFL combine. The knock on DHB has been his inconsistent hands, but he has steadily improved over the past two seasons in that area and should only get better. His route running has also been in question, but the nice thing about DHB is that he continues to improve in each of his weakest areas.
At 26, Heyward-Bey has plenty of football left in the tank and should only get better. Remember, he hasn’t had much to work with in his time at Oakland with Carson Palmer and Jason Campbell throwing him the football during his career. A vertical offense like the Lions run may be just what Heyward-Bey needs after being labeled a “bust” early in his career.
The video below contains all DHB’s measurables from the combine, the pros and cons of his game, and displays some of his best plays during his career at Oakland. I feel that DHB has a lot to offer the Lions big play offense at the right price. On a side note, check out his double move he puts on the Seahawks’ corner at 1:43 in the video: