Underrated Lions player offered as candidate to be dealt during draft

If the Lions trade any player during the 2024 NFL Draft, an interesting candidate has been offered up as a possible option.
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

One of the products of having a good team is having a late first-round pick, like the Detroit Lions have this year. Overall, they also don't have the kind of draft capital they've had in past years. After three picks in the top-75 this year, they won't go on the clock again (for now anyway) until pick No. 164 in the fifth round.

Of course trades around the draft board are possible, if not likely. The idea of parting with a player to acquire a draft pick isn't out of the question either, and the Lions are in a place where they have what looks like a surplus of talent/options at some positions.

On that front, on his list of players the Lions players who could be traded during the 2024 draft, Mike Payton of AtoZ Sports offered a fairly surprising, but interesting, possibility.

Payton had linebacker Malcolm Rodrigues and tight James Mitchell on his list, but it's the middle candidate of the trio that hits a little different.

Wide receiver Kalif Raymond.

Here's what Payton wrote.

I don't want to see Kalif Raymond go just like you don't, but the fact of the matter is that his usage really dropped off in 2023 and the Lions could get what they used to get from Raymond out of Jameson Williams. Couple that with the belief that the Lions will more than likely draft a receiver and guys like Donovan Peoples-Jones and Antoine Green's roles should be bigger. The Lions also signed Tre'Quan Smith before free agency and he was solid veteran contributor for the Saints when Dan Campbell was there. 

"Raymond is the Lions punt returner, but they do have Maurice Alexander on the roster as well and he has a decent history of being a return man in the NFL and UFL. "

NFL rumors: Would the Lions trade Kalif Raymond?

After topping 45 receptions and 575 yards in each of the previous two seasons, Raymond fell to 35 catches for 489 yards last season. In a more apples-to-apples comparison to 2022, when he also played all 17 games, his offensive snap share fell from 49 percent to 30 percent. Even if Raymond hadn't left the regular season finale with a knee injury, which kept him out of the entire playoff run, that snap share difference would have been dramatic.

Where Raymond has his greatest impact and value for the Lions is as a punt returner. He has averaged at least 11.2 yards per punt return in each of the last three seasons, earning a Second Team All-Pro nod for his work in 2022.

This time of the offseason doesn't bring much in the way of injury news, since teams simply aren't together between the end of the season and about now as voluntary offseason work starts. But Raymond's knee injury was bad enough that it didn't seem like he was ever close to playing in the playoffs, and where he is health-wise right now is not known publicly.

The unknown status of his knee aside, Raymond is easy to tab as an odd-man out on the Lions' wide receiver depth chart-especially if they draft a receiver. If he's healthy and the Lions are willing to consider trading him, which are both legit questions, there should be a few teams who'd have interest.

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