The Detroit Lions are in the midst of a rebuild. And no one positional group has suffered more from it than the wide receiver corps.
With quarterback Matthew Stafford at the helm last season, the Lions seemed to possess one of the top receiver trios in the NFL. Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., and Danny Amendola along with former first-round tight end T.J. Hockenson and rookie running back D’Andre Swift all built a strong offensive arsenal around Stafford.
Despite it not resulting in many wins, the Lions’ passing offense did finish in the top ten in the NFL last season averaging 256.5 yards through the air (10th overall). But the offense as a whole struggled to put up points averaging 23.6 points per game, which ranked 20th in 2020. Golladay missing all but five games due to hamstring and hip injuries didn’t help.
Following their 5-11 results in the standings, the Lions opted to kick off a complete rebuild last November by ousting head coach Matt Patricia and longtime general manager Bob Quinn. Stafford was traded and the majority of the wide receiver corps was allowed to leave this offseason.
Now, the Lions have former Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff set to start under center. And instead of Golladay, Jones, and Amendola, there are a bunch of relatively unknown free agents on one-year deals populating the depth chart at wide receiver.
The receiver depth chart in Detroit now includes names like Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, Chad Hansen, Kalif Raymond, and Damion Ratley. Out of this group, Williams is the early favorite to emerge as the team’s number one receiver this summer at training camp.
The 29-year old wideout posted his lone 1,000-yard season back in 2016 for the then-San Diego Chargers registering 69 receptions for 1,059 yards and seven touchdowns. Williams then spent two seasons under current Lions’ offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn in Los Angeles. But the veteran receiver didn’t play at all last season due to a labrum tear in his shoulder.
The Lions added even more new faces to the wide receiver room this offseason in rookies Amon-Ra St. Brown, Sage Surratt, and Javon McKinley. These first-year wideouts join Detroit’s existing set of receivers in Quintez Cephus, Geronimo Allison, Victor Bolden, and Tom Kennedy.
Throughout training camp and the upcoming preseason, the Detroit Lions will attempt to set its depth chart at wide receiver out of this group of relative unknowns and unprovens. While it’s a great opportunity for these players to earn significant snaps, it could come at the price of Detroit fielding one of the most questionable positional units in the entire NFL.