Why Detroit Lions believe Breshad Perriman is finally ready to make good on his talents

Detroit Free Press

Breshad Perriman had the best season of his NFL career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019, when he got the one thing he should have plenty of in Detroit: opportunity.

Perriman, a first-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens in 2016, played most of his one season in Tampa as the team’s No. 3 receiver.

But when Mike Evans and Chris Godwin missed time with injuries late in the year, Perriman moved up the depth chart and produced for the first time like many thought he would coming out of Central Florida.

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He had what was then a career-high 87 yards receiving in an early December win over Jacksonville, and after following that up with a 70-yard performance the next week against the Indianapolis Colts, closed the year with three straight 100-yard games.

“He just kept showing up,” said Lions wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El, an offensive assistant with the Bucs in 2019. “And when I say show up, I mean (when) it’s time to make a play. At that time, he was our third wide receiver behind Chris and Mike in Tampa, and he just kept showing up like, we got to try and find ways to get him the ball because he kept showing up. Wide open here, wide open there. So that’s what we kept doing.”

Perriman followed up his 36-catch, 645-yard season in Tampa with a so-so year last fall for the New York Jets, when he missed time with brain and ankle injuries, but started 12 games for one of the most anemic passing offenses in the league.

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This year, he projects as the Lions’ No. 2 receiver and should see significant action on an offense that will be breaking in an almost entirely new receiving corps.

Randel El said his familiarity with Perriman was a big selling point this offseason as the Lions bid farewell to five of their top six receivers from 2020 and added Perriman, Tyrell Williams, Kalif Raymond and Damion Ratley in free agency and Amon-Ra St. Brown in the draft.

“He knows how I teach,” Randel El said. “So that’s another guy from off the books, so to speak, where you don’t have to learn the ins and outs of how everybody learns. But you go through that process and you find out how everybody learns and you teach to that. and it helps them out, for sure.”

A few months shy of his 28th birthday, Perriman is more of a stopgap than a long-term solution for the Lions, but the son of ex-Lions receiver Brett Perriman adds a speed element to the team’s still evolving offense.

Lions general manager Brad Holmes told a story earlier this spring of being wowed at Perriman’s pro day by his 40-yard dash. Perriman posted times in the 4.15-second range when he quick-started his first 40, which prompted the NFL scouts in attendance to force Perriman to run it again.

“Breshad heard about those 4.1s, and so once he heard about it, he was just like, we tried to get him to run another one and he was like, ‘No, that’s it. I’m not going to run another one,’ which I really couldn’t blame him,” Holmes said. “But eventually we kind of talked him into him running another one, and he did, and got down and sure enough, it was a legitimate 4.25. Probably the fastest guy his size that I’ve seen running a 40.”

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Now, Randle El said it’s up to the Lions to turn Perriman’s speed into the weapon it appeared to be for a time in Tampa.

“It’s about really just figuring out ways to be able to get him the ball,” Randle El said. “One of his biggest attributes is speed and then his speed and height together, him being able to go up and get the ball, and then being able to keep the defender on one side and catch the ball on the other side. So he’s proven to do that down the field, so with that vertical threat with his speed — it certainly helps him being able to run any of those underneath routes and he did a lot of that stuff in Tampa and even last year. That vertical speed that he brings certainly helps out.”

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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