The Detroit Lions Looking Ahead: The Receiver Situation

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In The Wake Of The 2016 Season, What Are Bob Quinn‘s Options For Wide Receivers?


At receiver, there are only two certainties leading up to free agency and the draft:

Marvin Jones and Golden Tate will be back.

Other than that, there are a lot more questions than answers for the Lions in 2017 when it comes to who will be catching balls from Stafford and what roles they’ll play.

Let’s start with the two receivers under contract in 2017. Golden Tate has had the same role since he was signed in 2014 as a YAC player who occasionally bursts out for 100+ yard games. Marvin Jones looked like the second coming through the first quarter of the year but then fell off the face of the earth. A re-emergence of Golden Tate and an ankle injury hampered Jones’ output, but he frankly was unable to have an impact on a game past October. Not exactly what you want from a 40 million dollar man.

Despite the end of season woes, Jones flashed and he has earned the 2017 season to prove he can be a #1 receiver for the Lions. It was his first year playing with Stafford, and going from Dalton to Detroit’s #9 is like hitting 70 mph change-ups to going up against Aroldis Chapman.

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As for the rest of the receivers, nothing is guaranteed. Boldin may be back, but as he ages there’s no solid proposition that he can be the player he was for the Lions this season. Andre Roberts more than deserves a chance to come to camp, but he’s no roster lock. T.J. Jones will be at camp too, but he had a limited role in a season where more was expected. Going outside the WR position specifically, I believe Eric Ebron dropped his 5th year option back in Seattle and will be on a one year prove it deal in what may be his last season in Detroit.

With that all being said, the Lions do have two solid receiver options in Tate and Jones, but both of them are more #2 guys with upside than true #1’s. The Lions have needs all over the roster, but receiver is something that needs to be addressed this off-season. Here are their options…

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Receivers in Free Agency

There are a few good options for receivers in free agency, and the Lions have some spending power to go after someone. Some guys that I think would be good fits in Detroit would be Vincent Jackson, DeSean Jackson, Kenny Britt, Pierre Garcon, and Marquise Goodwin. No, Victor Cruz is not a good option for the Lions. V. Jackson, Britt, and Garcon could play a Boldin role if he weren’t to return and be able to do more down the field. Of those options, I like Britt the best, but he may be too costly for the inconsistency over his career. For a guy who can stretch the field, which the Lions desperately miss without Calvin, DeSean Jackson would be a solid option, but he is aging and wouldn’t be a cheap signing. Marquise Goodwin could be an interesting signing. He has elite speed but is unrefined as a route runner. He could be a guy who is brought to camp with a decent shot at making the team.

Personally I wouldn’t be a huge fan of signing any of these players as a long-term answer, but it’s realistic to expect the Lions to test the waters and see what the asking price is.

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Receivers in The Draft

If Corey Davis falls to the Lions at #21 I think they’d highly consider drafting him. There’s a chance he does due to an injury that will prevent him from running at the combine and playing in the MAC, but it’d be a surprise if he was there. When it comes down to it though, there’s too many holes in other places for the Lions to consider a WR in the first two rounds. Getting into round three, there’s a few names Lions fans should start to get familiar with. Curtis Samuel is an elite athlete from Ohio State. He’s a Tavon Austin lite, and could be an interesting piece for Cooter to utilize. Dede Westbrook is an intriguing slot prospect out of Oklahoma. Damore’ea Stringfellow is a big bodied receiver from Ole Miss. He projects as a possession chain moving guy.

Overall, GM Bob Quinn has some decent options when it comes to bolstering the receiving corps.

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