Could the supposed best receiver on the Detroit Lions’ roster not make the final-53 because of a lack of special teams ability? One insider believes so.
When asked who is the best wide receiver on the Detroit Lions‘ current roster, you’ll likely hear the name Kenny Golladay. The budding superstar posted an impressive 70 receptions for 1,063 yards and five touchdowns in 13 starts last season.
Other fans may say the choice is clearly veteran Marvin Jones or possibly even new arrival Danny Amendola. Those with an eye on the draft and who like to project performance could claim that the actual best receiver on the team is rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson.
The point being here that I don’t believe many would say the best receiver on the team is the Lions’ newest addition, veteran wideout Jermaine Kearse. But one Lions’ insider did. And he also mentioned that fact might not be enough to earn Kearse a spot on Detroit’s final-53 man roster come late August.
Last season, Kearse was the second most targeted player on the New York Jets’ offense. Unfortunately, he caught just 37 of his 76 targets posting a very low catch percentage of 48.7. That was the lowest of anyone on the Jets’ offense in 2018 and would have made him the third worst in Detroit just above tight end Michael Roberts (45.0 percent) and wide receiver Andy Jones (45.8 percent).
The previous season in New York, Kearse caught 63.7 percent of his passes, racking up a career-high 65 receptions on 102 targets for 810 yards and five touchdowns.
Here’s the thing. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press actually called Kearse the best receiver on the Lions’ roster. But he also went on to explain that might not be enough to earn him a spot on the final 53. Here’s Birkett’s response to a recent mailbag question asking if Kearse had anything left to offer.
"” … I posed this very question to an NFL source who’s seen [Kearse] play plenty of games and this is the feedback I got: ‘Unless [Kearse is] one of your top WRs he’ll struggle to make the roster because he won’t be great on [special teams] for you. He’s a good dude. Tough player. Never the fastest guy but strong and smart.’ … Kearse is a better receiver than anyone else on the Lions’ roster, but that’s not all that will go into the decision.”"
Obviously, I think calling Kearse the best receiver on the team is a stretch. But if Birkett means he’s the best pure catcher of the football (or that no one knows new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s scheme better), Detroit should strongly consider keeping him on their roster, regardless of his special teams ability. With starters Golladay and Marvin Jones currently dealing with injuries, Kearse will have more than enough opportunities to prove he’s as good as Birkett seems to claim.
But there is little doubt Jermaine Kearse faces an uphill battle to make the Detroit Lions’ final-53 with other competing receivers like Andy Jones, Chris Lacy, Tommylee Lewis, and Brandon Powell all possessing the ability to contribute on special teams as well.