The Lions have a sizable stable of receivers.
When healthy, the Lions’ offensive line ranks among the best in the NFL. In addition, new offensive coordinator Ben Johnson will have access to a number of skill position groups that aren’t widely known.
But the Lions’ wide receiver room may be the team’s most intriguing component this season. The team’s 1-through-3 could at least be better than viable and give Jared Goff a better chance this year than the revolving door the team had at receiver in 2022 because first-round pick Jameson Williams is anticipated to play on the field at some point this season.
Williams’ return from a knee injury will have to wait, but in the meanwhile, the skill position group that consists of D’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams, T.J. Hockenson, and Amon-Ra St. Brown is stronger than most people believe.
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The wide receiver room looks like this:
Lions WR depth chart
One is Amon-Ra St. Brown
2021 stats: 90 receptions for 912 yards and five touchdowns in 17 games (nine starts).
St. Brown made 611 slot plays in 2022, yet he still became Jared Goff’s preferred target and the Lions’ top wide receiver.
St. Brown might not receive the volume he did in 2022 due to D.J. Chark securing one outside spot and Josh Reynolds probably playing on the other while first-round pick Jameson Williams recovers from an ACL injury, but his chemistry with Goff and performance from 2021 should still result in a respectable number of targets. That ought to be true, especially in the beginning of the season.
D.J. Chark 2.
2021 stats: Seven receptions for 154 yards and two touchdowns in four games (four starts).
Up until 2021, Chark was progressing with the Jags: The wide receiver was criticized by Urban Meyer before the preseason, and his season was cut short by an ankle injury. Not quite the departure Chark was looking for, particularly as he prepared to enter the free agent market.
Chark is a large, athletic target outdoors when he’s healthy. Even after Williams enters the game, the wise man believes he will have a strong rebound season with the Lions. Chark might show to be an effective option on the outside opposite of Williams as St. Brown will probably be playing out of the slot.
The NFL’s most favored underdog selection, the 2022 Lions, has five reasons to be optimistic.
3. Josh Reynolds 2021 stats: 19 receptions for 306 yards and two touchdowns in seven games (five of which he started).
In the interim, Reynolds is filling in for Williams while he recovers from injury. Reynolds was a reliable spot starter for the Lions in 2021, playing in seven games after being acquired off waivers. This led to a two-year, $12 million contract deal with Detroit.
In the end, Reynolds will play the role of a depth wideout, giving Chark or Williams a chance to play outside. However, his performance during his brief time with the team last year may prove to be useful in the room.
Four games (three starts), 15 receptions (on 22 targets), 204 yards, and two touchdowns for Quintez Cephus in 2021.
While the Lions are waiting for Williams to return, Cephus is another option as a depth outside receiver. Before a shoulder injury cut short his season in 2021, Cephus was in and out of the rotation.
Jameson 5. Williams (Injured)
Data for 2021: N/A
If Williams hadn’t been recovering from a knee ailment at the 2022 NFL Draft, he most likely would have been the first wide receiver taken. Knowing this, the Lions moved all the way up to No. 12 to choose him from No. 32.
Williams will secure one of Detroit’s two outside wide receiver slots, most likely opposite Chark, if he recovers quickly from his ACL injury. Goff has a really strong trio of wideouts with Chark’s size, Williams’ speed, and St. Brown’s activity out of the slot.
Williams’ return to the field is uncertain, but he won’t take the field during the preseason and all indications are that he won’t play at least through the first week of the regular season. Williams will likely vault to the top of the depth chart and clinch the position of No. 1 wideout for years to come once he enters the game.
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