As the Detroit Lions prepare for mandatory minicamp next week, SideLion Report examines which pass catchers could make or miss the cut at the wide receiver position.
Darrell Bevell intends to emphasize running the ball as the new offensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions. However, a deep and versatile receiving corps will be important to maintaining a balanced offensive attack in 2019. After their top three wideouts, a variety of players will be looking to fill roles at the back end of the position group.
Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola are virtual locks to be the Lions top three wide receivers in 2019. After that trio, a host of young players, rookies and unproven options will attempt to stand out as the Lions’ offseason program continues.
At this point, it’s difficult to project which players, or how many for that matter, will fill out the remaining roster spots in the receiving corps. In 2018, the Lions broke training camp with six wide receivers. That’s the same amount that the 2017 Seattle Seahawks, Bevell’s last season as an OC, employed to begin the season.
Naturally, that doesn’t mean that the Lions are as likely to go as heavy this season with pass catchers, but they will be looking for a versatile set of receivers. Also, some of their younger choices will likely need to make an impact on special teams to have a chance of sticking around come September.
Free agent signee Tommylee Lewis, formerly of the New Orleans Saints, and Brandon Powell, who appeared in six regular season games for the Lions last season, may present one of the most intriguing competitions. With both standing just 5-8, their roles on offense are likely limited, and should one emerge as a dangerous kick-return threat, their stock could rise significantly.
Travis Fulgham, one of the Lions’ two sixth round draft picks in April, provides an intriguing frame at 6-3, making him an obvious understudy on the outside to both Golladay and Jones. With the two veterans likely to be featured heavily on offense, Fulgham may also have to endure several game day inactives or provide special teams contributions to see the field in 2019.
Fulgham is also just the second wide receiver selected by the Lions in general manager Bob Quinn’s four drafts. Though that guarantees him nothing, any early contributions from Fulgham, should he make the roster, will be another win for the Lions.
The remaining candidates currently on the roster, including Andy Jones who appeared in eight games last year for Detroit, have a combined 11 career catches. While any player who makes the team as the fifth or sixth receiver isn’t likely to see many targets, that dearth of experience and production is a cause for concern.
It could also be why the Lions brought in veteran receiver Jermaine Kearse last week, but were unable to come to an agreement with the veteran wideout. Kearse would have been a sensible addition; he played for Bevell in Seattle from 2012 to 2016.
So while the Lions will take a close look at their in-house receiver options as the offseason progresses, the possibility remains that the one of the final receiver spots may be filled by a player who is not currently with the team. Only half of the receivers who started the season with the Lions in 2018 were active in Week 17, so depth at the position will be a critical trend to follow as the 2019 season approaches.
Which receivers do you think have the best chance of sticking with the Detroit Lions in 2019? Are there any free agents at the position that they should pursue? Let us know in the comments section below.