Which Lions’ Wide Receivers Are Competing For A Position On The 53-Man Roster?
The Detroit Lions’ Wide Receivers have been an interesting group to watch throughout training camp. They will continue to be an interesting battle throughout preseason. It’s tough to say how many Lions’ wide receivers will make the roster. The Lions’ wide receivers only consisted of four players going into week one last year. One of those players, Andre Roberts, was primarily be a kick returner.
The Lions have a lot of flexibility in the passing game due to the exceptional receiving ability of Theo Riddick and the fact that Eric Ebron is more of a receiver than he is a tight end. This means that the Lions require very little out of their wide receivers in terms of snap count. They can get by with only four wide receivers on the roster.
This year, the Lions added more tight ends to the group that can contribute in the passing game. They also return with a presumably healthy Ameer Abdullah who is capable of catching balls out of the backfield. The demand for Lions’ wide receivers in this offense is going to be something that will be tough to determine until the final cuts are made.
Kenny Golladay, a lock just based on the draft capital that the team invested, has shown very well in training camp and looks to be ahead of schedule. Not only is he a lock for the roster, but he could make significant contributions to the offense this year.
This is where things get a little more interesting.
Dontez Ford, wide receiver out of Pittsburgh, really struggled with drops during the individual drills at training camp.
TJ Jones never lived up to what fans had hoped he would be. He is fighting for his job right now, and it is likely his last chance. He played a little bit last year, but never really proved that he belongs on a 53-man roster. That said, coming out of training camp, he is one of the favorite Lions’ wide receivers to make the roster given his experience at the NFL level and the value he brings as a return man.
Keshawn Martin brings value as a return man, and he may stay on the roster as a backup in this regard, but as a receiver, he has not shown that he is capable of handling taking on NFL corners on a regular basis. He struggled through some of the individual drills, but came on more strongly late in the week.
Michael Rector is an athletic rookie out of Stanford that excels with his combination of speed, size, and quickness. He is a raw prospect that gets by mostly on his athletic ability at this point. He is going to need some polish and seasoning and is a prime candidate for the practice squad.
Jarred Abbrederis flashed ability with the packers. He flashed ability with the Lions this training camp. He runs good routes and has generally solid hands, but is not athletically impressive and is inexperienced in the craft at the NFL level.
Jace Billingsley was a camp darling a year ago. He appears to be a camp darling again. He is very undersized but makes up for it with his quickness, elusiveness and precise route running. Billingsley has shown the ability to make consistently good hands catches. His size was likely the primary factor in him not making the roster last year, and that has not changed.
— Sean Lanigan (@Lanny1925) August 10, 2017
If the Lions’ wide receivers are limited to four, only one of these players will make it. While TJ Jones may be the favorite right now, I expect that Jace Billingsley to give him a run for his money. He would be a good player in the slot given his quickness, route running and elusiveness and brings a skill set to the table that only Golden Tate can match.
The competition for this fourth spot, or the likely winner of the next spot has to be TJ Jones. His experience on the 53-man roster and his special teams value gives him an edge here. He had a solid training camp and, if he isn’t the fourth receiver, will likely be the fifth.
If the Lions’ receivers were expanded to five this year, the competition for TJ Jones would likely be Jared Abbrederis and Keshawn Martin. Abbrederis has potential as a receiver. Martin can contribute on special teams and showed well as a wide receiver late in camp. Whether or not the Lions retain five wide receivers on the 53-man roster is up in the air. This is going to be a preseason battle that is worth watching. There is a lot of young talent in this group but only a handful of the Lions’ wide receivers can make the final roster.
— Sean Lanigan (@Lanny1925) August 10, 2017