5 Mid-Late Round Wide Receiver Options For Lions
By Matt Urben
Looking at 5 Possible Wide Reciever Options for the Lions in the Draft.
The Detroit Lions, despite losing Calvin Johnson — one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history — during the 2016 offseason, elected to address the hole solely in free agency. Many assumed that Johnson’s loss would set the Lions back a few seasons, however, Bob Quinn didn’t blink in handling the situation and effectively duplicated Johnson’s production without the draft. The plan worked great as newcomers Anquan Boldin and Marvin Jones accumulated a combined 122 catches for 1,514 yards and 12 touchdowns. Andre Roberts had a decent season as the fifth receiving option, adding 14 catches for 188 yards and 1 touchdown. Plus, he added 2 special teams touchdowns of the punt return variety.
The strategy was effective in 2016, but that doesn’t mean the Lions shouldn’t be looking to add some depth and youth at the position in 2017. It’s worth mentioning that Matthew Stafford had the most dropped passes (28) of any other QB in the league. I gave the Lions a B- overall in my postseason wide receiver grades. So, while they won’t be looking for a new starter, a mid-late round pick makes a lot of sense. Here are five wide receivers I think the Lions should be targeting in the upcoming 2017 draft.
1. Amara Darboh: Michigan – Projected: 2nd-4th
2016 Stats: 57 catches, 862 Yards, 7 Touchdowns.
I decided to start in our home state with University of Michigan’s Amara Darboh. Now, this choice is me picturing a guy that could fill that Anquan Boldin-type of role in Detroit’s offense. Darboh is roughly the same size as Bolin at 6-foot-2, 215 lbs. This may be wishful thinking, however, as his stock could rise or fall based on what he runs at the scouting combine. He could end up as high as a second-rounder, which could make him an unlikely pick for Detroit. But if he falls to the late-third, or early fourth, he could be a great fit and good value.
2. Travis Rudolph: Florida State – Projected: 4th-5th
2016 Stats: 56 Catches, 840 Yards, 7 Touchdowns.
Rudolph looks to me like a guy that could play in this league if you give him a little time to grow. He doesn’t have great size, but his lengthy 6-foot-1, 200-lb frame has NFL written all over it. After posting back to back seasons with at least seven touchdowns, he’s a guy that has the athleticism and hands to convert in the red zone at the next level. He’s most commonly viewed as a fourth-round pick but with so many mid-tier wide receivers in this draft, he could fall into the fifth and offer great value. Like Darboh, Rudolph played at an elite college program in Florida State. F.S.U has been a powerhouse and recently produced stud receiver, Kelvin Benjamin.
3. ArDarius Stewart: Alabama – Projected: 2nd-3rd
2016 Stats: 54 Catches, 854 Yards, 8 Touchdowns.
Stewart was hindered by a mediocre Alabama passing game in 2016, but he is a third-fourth round talent according to most scouts (pre-combine obviously). He’s a physical talent, who, like Darboh, I see filling that Anquan Boldin role as a tough third or fourth option in Detroit. He is 6-foot-1, 205 lbs and finished with a career-high 8 touchdowns in 2016. You can count on anyone coming from Alabama to be well-coached and ready to play at the professional level. There is a reason why Alabama routinely has about a dozen potential draft prospects most years.
4. Artavis Scott: Clemson – Projected: 3rd-4th
2016 Stats: 76 Catches, 614 Yards, 5 Touchdowns.
Scott may have been overshadowed by stud Clemson receiver, Mike Williams, the unanimously top-ranked NFL receiving prospect. However, Scott just turned in his third consecutive season with at least 76 catches. The previous two seasons, though, he accumulated over 900 receiving yards. His small stature (5-foot-10, 190 lbs) has pushed him down mock drafts. But last time Clemson had two NFL-caliber prospects — Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant — both turned into great players. Don’t forget former Clemson star DeAndre Hopkins either. Scott played for the great Dabo Swinney, appearing in two straight National Championship games. Keep your eye on Scott.
5. Josh Malone: Tennessee – Projected: 4th-5th
2016 Stats: 50 Catches, 972 Yards, 11 Touchdowns.
Josh Malone is an impressive playmaker that is projected to go in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. A bit of a one-year wonder, Malone showed true big-play ability in 2016. His stats back that up with 972 yards and 11 touchdowns, on just 50 catches. He’s not the sure-handed possession receiver that Artavis Scott is likely to be, but 11 touchdowns in the S.E.C. is more than respectable. Sizewise, Malone is more suited to play on the outside. His 6-foot-3, 200 lb frame is one of the reasons he was a touchdown machine last season. Detroit could use a big-bodied receiver with Eric Ebron being their current biggest weapon.
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