The Detroit Lions are in line to return their top three wideouts from 2019 next season. Still, they must take advantage of a deep receiver class in April’s draft.
Other than a productive wide receiver unit, the Detroit Lions didn’t have much to be proud of by the time they wrapped up their rough, three-win 2019 season. Despite many other pressing needs requiring attention this offseason, adding to that group from a potentially historic receiver draft class should remain a focus come April.
With the re-signing of veteran slot-man Danny Amendola to a one-year extension this week, the Lions are poised to field the same top three wideouts that comprised their best position group from a year ago. Pro Bowler Kenny Golladay and veteran Marvin Jones round out the impressive trio.
However, though Golladay is positioned to receive a lucrative contract extension offer once the new collective bargaining agreement is finalized in the coming weeks, none of those three players is currently under contract beyond 2020. The cupboard is also relatively bare beyond them, with the rest of the receivers currently on the roster possessing a combined total of just 22 career receptions.
Needless to say, the long-term need at the position is legitimate. Thankfully for the Lions, the 2020 NFL Draft is shaping up to be a historic one in terms of talent at the wide receiver position.
In his four drafts with the Lions, general manager Bob Quinn has selected just two receivers; Golladay in 2017 (third round) and Travis Fulgham in 2019 (sixth round). That number seems likely to rise to at least three this April, but when will it happen?
In the first round, the Lions are widely presumed to be targeting a defensive player at their current third overall slot, or a few spots lower should they trade that pick to acquire more selections. Unless something completely unexpected happens, this year’s consensus top three receivers – Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs and Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb – won’t be available when the Lions are on the clock for the second time.
Still, a wide array of talented receivers could still appeal to the Lions later in the draft, possibly as early as the second round. Colorado’s Laviska Shenault, Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk, TCU’s Jalen Reagor, Ohio State’s K.J. Hill, and USC’s Michael Pittman Jr. are just some of the players that could be nice additions to the Lions’ receiving corps. They could also drop to later rounds due to the overwhelming talent at the position and teams filling other needs.
Additionally, due to the aforementioned veterans currently in the unit, whichever wideouts the Lions add in April wouldn’t be pressed to contribute immediately. Could this dynamic, along with their many needs at other positions, prompt Quinn to wait longer to add a talented pass-catcher?
Quinn has generally stood by his ‘best player available’ mantra in his four drafts and isn’t likely to change that approach this year. Yet, he could be in a position to add a gifted receiver early in the draft to help ensure that the Lions’ passing offense can build on last year’s gains, as well as provide a bridge to subsequent seasons. Despite the overall depth at the position, should he wait too long, he could regret it.
When do you think the Lions should draft a receiver this year? Which receivers do you think they should target? Let us know in the comments section below.