Much of the talk outside of Allen Park about the wide receiver corps of the Detroit Lions has been negative. After all, the team parted ways with the majority of their starters from last season when they kicked off their latest rebuild this offseason. And replaced them with relative unknowns.
Of the several new faces, two have seemingly emerged as potential stars in the making for the Motor City. One has a history of success in the NFL, while the other is a rookie.
Tyrell Williams has been a 1,000-yard receiver in the NFL before. Unfortunately, that was five years ago. And the 29-year old didn’t play at all last season due to a shoulder injury. While Williams has had a history of success in the league, there’s a reason he finds himself in Detroit after inking a four-year, $44 million deal with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2019.
Although the position of wide receiver was the team’s biggest need entering the 2021 NFL Draft, the Lions opted not to address it until the fourth round. But they landed USC wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown with that selection, who now has a chance to become an instant star in Detroit.
But the 21-year old has yet to take a meaningful snap in the NFL. And while his daily battles with cornerback Jeff Okudah highlight his competitiveness, it means nothing without it resulting in positive production when the real games begin. But if St. Brown’s work ethic is any indication, the rookie is going to surprise many this season.
While Williams and St. Brown likely represent the team’s best hope for fielding a solid wide receiver corps in 2021, there’s one wideout fans need to start monitoring as the preseason kicks off. Here’s what Chris Burke of The Athletic recently tweeted about a receiver that no one can seem to cover through the early portion of Lions’ training camp.
"“Cannot say enough positive things about Kalif Raymond’s camp. There is not a single CB who’s been able to cover him on a consistent basis — he got behind Okudah, off a double move, for a long completion in 1-on-1s. He’s only 5-8, but his speed presents a challenge outside.”"
So what do we know about Kalif Raymond? Well, since going undrafted out of Holy Cross in 2016, the 27-year old has played for five different teams including two different stints with the Tennessee Titans and New York Giants.
Primarily a special teams returner who found himself on and off several practice squads, the diminutive Raymond was targeted just four times in his first three seasons as a pro and didn’t get his first NFL start until 2019.
But Raymond, who reportedly ran a 4.34 forty at his pro day, found a niche as a deep threat with the Tennesse Titans over the past two seasons, with highlights of his exploits being splattered across social media. He’s coming off a breakout season with the Titans where he posted career-highs in games played (15), starts (3), targets (15), yards (180), yards per reception (20.8), first downs (7), offensive snaps (248), and special teams snaps (169).
Entering his sixth season in the NFL, Kalif Raymond has a rare opportunity with the rebuilding Detroit Lions this year. In desperate need of quality receiver play, Raymond has a chance to make a real impact as a vertical threat, slot receiver, and special teams returner in Motown.