LIONS INSIDER

Justin Hunter visits the Detroit Lions facility

Posted Mar 7, 2013

Martin Mayhew has said he won't stop looking for weapons for Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. Perhaps Tennessee WR Justin Hunter will fit that mold this year.

Justin HunterDetroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew has taken a receiver in every draft since taking over his current post in 2009.

"The way I look at it is when you have a quarterback like Matthew Stafford, you want to keep giving him weapons, and that's what we're going to try to keep doing," Mayhew said.

"If it's a receiver, if it's a tight end, if it's a running back that can catch passes out of the backfield, all those things help Matthew to be better, and they help Calvin (Johnson) to be better. That's something we're constantly focused on: how can we help those guys make more plays, and I'm not going to stop being focused on that."

The Lions have a need for an outside receiver opposite Johnson after releasing Titus Young back in January.

Mayhew may opt to fill that role via the draft and met with former Tennessee receiver Justin Hunter, one of the draft's top receiving prospects, on Thursday for the team's first of 30 allotted pre-draft visits.

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Hunter burst onto the scene in 2010 when he broke the Tennessee freshman record with seven touchdown catches. He was the home run threat in the Vols offense that season with four touchdowns from 30 yards or longer and he finished with a 25.9 average yards per catch.

Expectations were high for Hunter heading into his sophomore season, but a torn ACL against Florida early on derailed his second season.

"I had never experienced an ACL injury and all I could think about was the worst – my career was going to be over and all of that," Hunter told Detroitlions.com.

He returned the next spring and as a junior finished third in the SEC with 1,083 yards. His 73 receptions left him three shy of the Tennessee single-season record set by Marcus Nash in 1997.

Hunter declared for the NFL draft after the season and finished his college career with 18 touchdowns in 28 career games.

Hunter cleared up any worries by NFL teams at the NFL Scouting Combine last month when his MRI checked out fine.

During the combine workouts, Hunter impressed teams when he clocked 4.44 seconds in the 40-yard dash, tied Marcus Davis (Virginia Tech) for the top vertical jump among all receivers (39.5 inches) and went 11'4" in the broad jump, which was second among all positions at the combine.

"I don't think teams were expecting me to come back from my injury like that," Hunter said.

ESPN Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has listed Hunter as the third-best receiver available in April's draft behind West Virginia's Tavon Austin and Tennessee teammate Cordarrelle Patterson.

His combine proved to teams that he's tall, fast and can go up and get the football. That's exactly what the Lions are looking for opposite All-Pro Calvin Johnson.

"I'm able to track the ball down and just spread the field for other people," he said of his game. "I think I can work some of those underneath routes but definitely one of my best strengths is being able to stretch the field."

The Lions need someone who can stretch the field and divert some coverage away from Megatron. Hunter seems to fit that profile.

Hunter weighed in at 196 at the combine but told Detroitlions.com that he'd like to get up closer to 210 or 215 by the time he hits the field for rookie minicamps.

"I know they have two people on (Calvin Johnson) every time he lines up and people base their game plan on him," Hunter said. "It would be nice (playing next to a guy like that) because usually that happens to me. I know how it feels. I think one-on-one coverage would be great. I'd be excited for that."

Right now most analysts have Hunter pegged as a early second-round pick, but his combine could have gotten him into the latter parts of the first round.