3 Detroit Lions players who could be nice surprises in 2024

As the Detroit Lions look to take their next step next season, these three players could be surprisingly impactful.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
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1. WR Donovan Peoples-Jones

When the news came they had re-signed him, the report from Jordan Schultz of Bleacher Report noted how the Lions prioritized keeping Peoples-Jones and believe he is a "rising player."

It's always a challenge for a mid-season acquisition to make a big impact, so those cards were stacked against Peoples-Jones from the moment the Lions acquired him from the Cleveland Browns as last season's trade deadline. In the midst of a run to the division title and more, there just wasn't room to give him a lot runway (i.e. playing time) to learn a new offense and get fully integrated with new teammates.

At the league meetings last week, Campbell talked about the obvious benefit Peoples-Jones will get from having a full offseason, and how he may bring something a little different to the table than anyone else the Lions have.

"He’ll have a better understanding of what we’re doing (when) we go into camp,” Campbell said. “And so I think what it does it just gives us somebody that we know can play the position. He’s a bigger-body guy, too, so he’s a little different than anybody we’ve got.”

Peoples-Jones showed promise as a big play threat over the first two seasons of his career with the Browns, averaging 21.7 and 17.6 yards per catch respectively. Then he had a proverbial third-year breakout in 2022, setting clear career-highs in catches (61) and receiving yards (839). Before he was traded by the Browns last season, he played a lot but lacked production (eight receptions in seven games).

With Josh Reynolds gone, Peoples-Jones is currently the man lined up to step in as the Lions' No. 3 wide receiver. A veteran addition and/or an early draft pick would change that equation, of course, but the opportunity is front of him until something does change.

If a big role is lined up for him come Week 1, Peoples-Jones won't have to catch 60 passes to be impactful. As a bigger-bodied receiver who is a downfield threat and seems to have untapped potential as a red zone weapon, a potentially surprising contributor for the Lions lurks here.

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