PFF points to Lions' breakout candidate who may have renewed opportunity

There is opportunity available in the Detroit Lions' receiving corps, and Pro Football Focus has revived someone as a breakout candidate this year.
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

It's not nearly as bad as it was going into the 2021 season. But there is opportunity available on the Detroit Lions' wide receiver depth chart looking toward this season, with the departure of Josh Reynolds in free agency.

Jameson Williams is easy to tab as a breakout candidate this year. There's a lot of internal hope Donovan Peoples-Jones will emerge after being acquired at last year's trade deadline. In terms of sheer opportunity to earn a roster spot, undrafted rookie Isaiah Williams stands out.

Kalif Raymond landed with the Lions in 2021, when the landscape at wide receiver was far different for the Lions. He stepped up with that opportunity, becoming an excellent punt returner while totaling 95 receptions for 1,192 yards over the 2021 and 2022 seasons.

Last season, Raymond's opportunities dropped off. He played in all 17 games, suffering a knee injury in the regular season that sidelined him for the playoffs, with 35 receptions for 489 yards and one touchdown. He also played just 30 percent of the offensive snaps.

PFF points toward possible renewed opportunity for Kalif Raymond

Bradley Locker of Pro Football Focus has named a breakout candidate for all 16 NFC teams. He dug a little deeper in some spots, and offered Raymond for the Lions.

"With Josh Reynolds heading to Denver, the Lions’ receivers behind Amon-Ra St. Brown all received a boost in the pecking order. The fact that Detroit didn’t add a wideout in the draft means Brad Holmes trusts guys like Raymond to replace Reynolds’ ability to move the chains. Raymond ranked third on the Lions in receiving grade last year, and the eight-year vet should be in for a career-high target share in an offense that loves distributing the ball."

Raymond fell down the pecking order for targets last year through no fault of his own. He was still fifth on the Lions in targets with 44, but St. Brown (164) and Sam LaPorta (120) soaked up a lot of opportunities. Reynolds is leaving behind 64 targets from last season, which have not been meaningfully replaced beyond whatever projections are attached to Williams and Peoples-Jones right now.

Someone will have to step into vacated opportunities in the Lions' wide receiver corps. Raymond is as good a candidate as anyone, and he has a little history of stepping up when opportunity came his way.


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