Kalif Raymond is an underrated piece to the Detroit Lions offense

USA Today

Some of the best stories that emerge from the NFL are players that went undrafted and carve themselves a serious role for a team. That is the case for Detroit Lions wide receiver Kalif Raymond.

He went undrafted in 2016 to the Denver Broncos and bounced around from the New York Jets, New York Giants and Tennessee Titans. However, the Lions signed him in 2021 and he went on to have a career year with 48 receptions for 576 yards and four touchdowns.

Following up that career year in 2022, Raymond signed a two-year contract worth $9.5 million dollars and recorded 47 receptions for 616 yards. This led to another contract extension in 2023 that will keep him in Detroit through the 2025 season.


Last season, there was a slight drop off with production as he only had 35 receptions for 489 yards and one touchdown. That said, it appears that Raymond is better than he’s given credit for as a player.

As you can see in the graph posted above by Scott Barrett, Raymond is bunched together in a group of receivers that consists of Cooper Kupp, D.K. Metcalf, Jakobi Meyers and others. Let’s look at some of my favorite plays from him this past season.


Starting with a play against the Carolina Panthers from last season, you’ll see the Lions aligned in ’11’ personnel (one running back and one tight end). One key thing you’ll notice is that Amon-Ra St. Brown isn’t on the field and essentially the player that “fills in” for him is Kalif Raymond.

Prior to the snap, Jared Goff puts Raymond in motion and once he gets past the tight end, Goff snaps the ball. After the snap, Goff fakes the hand off and looks downfield where you can see Raymond exploding vertically up field before breaking his route back inside toward Goff.

On this route, you’ll notice how explosive and quick Raymond is and you’ll see how strong he is by shaking off a tackler. This reception obviously leads to a big gain but it’s reassuring to know that Raymond can step onto the field at any time and be a threat in the passing game.


Next, we move onto the game against the Denver Broncos last season. On the play above, the Lions come out with their ’12’ personnel (one running back and two tight ends. The two receivers on the field are Kalif Raymond and Jameson Williams.

Prior to the snap, Raymond is used in motion and is faced against man coverage as he gets vertically upfield. Meanwhile, this motion creates a mismatch as he then gets matched up against a linebacker. As he works outside and then back inside, you can see Raymond running this comeback route violently. This helps him gain or step or two on the linebacker to create separation, and it gives a clear window for Goff to deliver the pass.

Lastly, I want to focus on Raymond making a great adjustment and catch. On the road in Minnesota, the Lions come out in their ’11’ personnel (one running back and one tight end) and run a flood concept.

Aligned in the slot to the right of the formation is Raymond. He runs an out route under the fly route being run by Josh Reynolds. Despite the ball being placed high by Jared Goff, it’s a great adjustment made by Raymond.

There may be limited production for Kalif Raymond each week due to the Lions ability to spread the football around. That said, there appears to be no limitations in Raymond’s game as he wins in all three areas of the field. Meanwhile, he runs every route like it’s his last and he’s just a big play contributor to the offense in Detroit.

Last season, he averaged 13.4 yards per touch and only had a 4.5% drop percentage (2 drops). There may not be a 1,000 yard season on the horizon for Raymond but he’s a key piece to the offense each week. He fits exactly what the Lions preach from competing, work ethic and grit. The hard work and gritty style of play that Raymond shines through on tape on a weekly basis.

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