Mayhew: "The receiver position is going to be very competitive"

Posted Jun 28, 2012

One of general manager Martin Mayhew’s most popular quotes is that the draft is not the finish line when it comes to building a roster. The receiver position for the Lions is a perfect example of what Mayhew means by that.

Before the NFL Draft in April, the Lions were thin at the receiver position with Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson and Titus Young returning from the 2011 active roster, Nate Hughes returning from the injured reserve list and Marcus Harris and Terrence Toliver coming back from the practice squad.

Burleson joked before the draft that it was a little too quiet for his liking with so few receivers on the roster.

The Lions began building those numbers up when they took receiver Ryan Broyles in the second round of the draft. Undrafted rookie free agents Patrick Edwards and Wallace Miles were signed soon after the draft and have survived the offseason roster shuffle thus far.

The Lions then went out and signed free-agent receivers Lance Long, Maurice Stovall and Jarett Dillard.

So, what started as a thin position group in January has become rather crowded with only a couple potential roster spots still up for grabs?

“Stovall was with us last year, got hurt early on in the season and that sort of affected his role,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said. “We had a little bigger role in mind coming out of training camp than we really saw. But he’s a veteran player, he’s a good guy, he’s a tough guy and has a chance to be productive for us.”

Stovall (6-5, 220) injured his hand against the Buccaneers in Week 1 and finished the year with one catch for eight yards, contributing mostly on special teams.

“Jarett is the same way,” Schwartz said of Dillard. “He’s a very, very productive receiver when he’s played. He’s a young veteran; he’s played a little bit in the NFL.”

Dillard spent the last two seasons with the Jaguars. He had 29 catches for 292 yards and a touchdown in 14 games (five starts) with the Jaguars last season.

“You just want to keep adding players and just incrementally get better,” Schwartz said of the offseason additions to his receiver group. “Those guys were both really good acquisitions for us at this stage of the game. We’re talking about getting ready for training camp and things like that. To be able to get guys like that is good for us.”

Edwards and Miles made their fair share of plays this offseason and will try to make a case for a roster spot when training camp begins July 26.

“They’ve told me that I’m a rookie and I’m going to make mistakes and just keep playing and keep fighting and get better at something every day,” Edwards said of a conversation he had with coaches at the end of the offseason program a couple weeks ago.

The Lions kept six receivers on the Week 1 roster last year – Johnson, Burleson and Young on top of Stovall, kick returner Stefan Logan and Rashied Davis, who is no longer with the team. Logan is a wildcard because he could be categorized as a receiver or a running back as he plays both.

Johnson, Young, Burleson and Broyles are in (Broyles could start the year on the physically unable to perform list), which means there only a couple roster spots for Stovall, Dillard, Edwards, Miles, Long, Toliver, Hughes, Harris and potentially Logan to compete for.

“The receiver position is going to be very competitive,” Mayhew said. “I think we’ve gotten to a point where we’re going to have to let some really talented guys go late because we have enough depth competing for those last spots.”