A Look At Filling The Detroit Lions Need At Slot Reciever In The 2019 NFL Draft
The Lions need a slot receiver. When Golden Tate left midseason, the Lions offense never fully recovered. While a change in offensive philosophy brought in by new OC Darrell Bevell might lessen the need for three wide receiver sets, the slot is more important than ever in the NFL. It’s a position I believe needs to be addressed by the Detroit Lions in the forthcoming NFL Draft.
In this thought experiment, I’m skipping the first round since the Detroit Lions are almost guaranteed to take a defensive talent. Let’s take a look at where Quinn might look to take a slot receiver and who might be available for each of the picks available to the Lions.
Round 2 – Pick 43
Oh hey, it’s a 5’9’’ white wide receiver. Are we going full New England? Oh, he ran a 4.31s 40, finished 6th in the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle, and had 141.5 receiving yards per game at UMASS? Sign me up. He might fall to the third because of his size, but with the Lions picking with the Eagles late third-round pick (147) we shouldn’t expect him to make it to the Lions unless Quinn is once again aggressive in the draft.
Tyshun “Deebo” Samuel
This guy is a playmaker. If you watch his tape he just won’t go down and he’ll make some of the most impressive catches you’ve seen. The only reason he’ll fall to the 2nd round is injury concerns. In 2017 he broke his leg in the third game of the season and he also missed time in 2015 and 2016. Probably the closest thing to a “Golden Tate” slot receiver in this draft class. It comes down to if you believe his durability is an issue of the past or one to be wary of in the future.
Round 3 – Pick 88 (PHI)
Can the Lions just draft him on the hope that he’s as good as his brother as a rookie in the NFL? No? Okay. But he brings some good athleticism, a solid frame, and amazing detail to his route running. I think he could go in the slot almost immediately.
Killed it at the combine. Absolutely killed it. The numbers are so good. But he never proved he could create separation from college defensive backs, often beating them with his size and speed. He’ll likely go before now anyway and the value just isn’t there for the Lions to pick him that early. I believe they need someone to fill the void now rather than later and don’t need another two-year project like Golladay.
Round 4 – Pick 111
Catches everything, has polished route running that creates separation, and can create yards after the catch with his vision. Lacks top end speed and size to make him a day two prospect. Gives his all as a blocker but sometimes that just isn’t enough. Would he fit as a slot receiver in the hard nose Patricia culture? 100%
The antithesis of Renfrow is McLaurin. This kid is fast with route running that is solid but has room to improve. Another guy that will put himself into the block even if he isn’t the best doing it. His biggest red flag is that he catches with his body instead of tracking the ball with his eyes.
Round 5 – Pick 146
The third receiver for the Georgia Bulldogs and a darn good one. He’s very technical in his route running and a good blocker in a run-heavy scheme. But average NFL athleticism and vision will mean he won’t ever be a YAC monster.
Our first Johnson from Toledo on the list. He has a quick release and would make an instant impact on special teams. His performance at the combine was good enough to make him a safe pick in the 5th round.
Round 6 – Picks 184 and 204 (NE)
Boy is Turpin explosive. He averaged 14.1 yards per reception and was tied for first in kickoff and punt returns in the FBS until he was dismissed from the team because of an ongoing investigation into domestic violence charges in Texas and New Mexico. He’s recently earned an endorsement from TCU head coach Gary Patterson and may attend the TCU pro day. The value in the sixth round is there. Whether or not Bob Quinn will look past these issues is anyone’s guess.
He’s small at 5’9″, 175 lb. That’s why he’s going to be going so late, but don’t let that cause you to write off one of the most explosive players in college football last season. With 89 catches for 1343 yards and 16 TDs, this kid has shown he can play. Just don’t expect him to be a physical slot receiver.
Solid route runner for the Toledo Rockets. He’s not going to wow you with athleticism. His game lies in creating space and catching contested catches. Wouldn’t be the worst 6th-round flyer.
Round 7 – Picks 224 and 229 (Pitt)
This guy is all athleticism with zero polish on his route running. He ran an unofficial 4.35s 40 yd dash, 4.15 yd shuttle, and a 7.01s three-cone drill at the Combine. I think that’s enough for a 7th-round flyer with some special teams potential.