After not pouring major resources into the group this offseason, is wide receiver a big problem for the Detroit Lions?
Heading into the offseason, wide receiver was a potential, but not necessarily massive, need for the Detroit Lions. In free agency, DJ Chark left (as easily expected) and Marvin Jones was brought back to Detroit to essentially replace him.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jameson Williams, Josh Reynolds, Jones and Kalif Raymond is a solid top-five receivers. Not great top to bottom, but solid and overall plenty good enough on the assumption Williams took a step forward in his second season.
Then, the week before the draft, Williams received a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s gambling policy. With that hiatus goes the top end of the expectations for him in 2023, as he’ll miss essentially one-third of the season. What he does upon his return is a question mark.
From this corner, perhaps in lonely fashion, losing Chark was not and still is not a huge loss for the Lions. Jones might just be a better overall fit, even if he’s older and a raw talent downgrade.
Is wide receiver a huge problem for the Detroit Lions?
Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders (subscription required) recently named the biggest post-draft roster holes for all 32 NFL teams. He’s got wide receiver for the Lions.
"This is a bigger problem than it should have been because of Jameson Williams’ six-game gambling suspension. Before that, the Lions were planning to start Williams along with Amon-Ra St. Brown and Josh Reynolds.Now, the Lions will need to put Marvin Jones Jr. in the starting lineup for the first part of the season. It’s hard to know how much he has left at age 33; he put up a minus-8.6% DVOA for the Jaguars last year. At least Kalif Raymond has done a good job of transitioning from return specialist to more of a depth receiver with more than 500 yards in each of the past two seasons. Behind Jones and Raymond are players who haven’t done much in the NFL, including Tom Kennedy and Trinity Benson."
Mike Payton of Pride of Detroit laid out the wide receiver issue for the the Lions too, and his punch line is worth mentioning
"So where does that leave the Lions receiving corps? I don’t know and that’s the problem. The Lions had chances to add to the group in free agency and the draft and other than the seventh-round pick they used on (Antoine) Green, they stayed away from the position."
The Lions could sign another veteran receiver, but it’s safe to say whoever it is will not move the needle that much (if at all) given that it’s May. A trade for someone like DeAndre Hopkins or Tee Higgins seems unlikely.
After St. Brown, due in big part to Williams’ poor judgement to not simply do his non-NFL gambling away from team property if he’s going to do it, the wide receiver position is certainly a big concern for the Lions heading into a season with high expectations.