With a healthy Detroit Lions receiving corps, two deep threats are in the starting lineup, but what about the depth of deep receivers on this roster?
It might not seem like a secret to Detroit Lions fans, but the rest of the league might not be aware of the depth the Lions have built in their wide receiving corp, specifically at deep threats. The first two names that jump to mind are starting receivers Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay.
Jones was one of the best deep threat wide receivers in 2017 and again in 2018 before getting injured. He averaged 18 yards per reception in 2017 and 14.5 in 2018. Golladay, on the other hand, averaged 17 yards per reception during that same season before “dipping” to 15.2 in 2018.
The loss of receiver Golden Tate working the underneath routes is a major factor in their numbers decreasing last year. But with the addition of tight end T.J. Hockenson and experienced receiver Danny Amendola, expect those numbers to rise again.
So, the two starting receivers are the deep threats, right? Sure, that’s to be expected. But what’s behind them might be the secret. A sixth-round draft pick that has been labeled a sleeper provides the depth this team needs in order to be ready for another injury.
Rookie wide receiver Travis Fulgham was a terror as a deep threat in college with 18 catches of 20+ yards last year. That ranks second-most among all drafted wide receivers in 2019. If his total isn’t enough to convince you, his grade from Pro Football Focus on deep passes ranks third-best (96.0) among the same group of wide receivers.
True, this rookie hasn’t proved anything yet. And, hopefully, he won’t be called on to prove anything right out of the gate in 2019. The thing he provides is that security of things not falling apart if something unfortunate happens to the starters like last season.
Golladay was blanketed late in 2018 without much fear from the other side of the field beating the defense deep. This year, that fear will still remain with Fulgham in the fold. And if defenses don’t realize it yet, they most likely will in short order.
Let’s flashback to week one of the 2017 season with a rookie Detroit Lions receiver facing the Arizona Cardinals. Coincidentally, the Lions face the Cardinals in week one again this season. Golladay broke out with four catches, two touchdowns, 69 receiving yards and 17.3 yards per catch. His long was an iconic diving 45-yard catch for a touchdown.
Could history repeat itself in 2019 in Arizona? Time will tell and Fulgham has the tools to make it happen. But even if he doesn’t repeat history in week one, he’s still the additional deep threat this Lions team needs behind the starting wide receivers in 2019.