Training camp preview: Wide receivers

Posted Jul 17, 2014

On paper, the Lions wide receivers have the ability to be an explosive bunch.

On the roster: Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Jeremy Ross, Ryan Broyles, Kevin Ogletree, TJ Jones, Kris Durham, Corey Fuller, Patrick Edwards, Naaman Roosevelt, Cody Wilson, Andrew Peacock

Key loss: Nate Burleson

Making the cut: Johnson, Tate, Ross

On the bubble: Broyles, Ogletree, Jones, Durham, Fuller, Edwards, Roosevelt, Wilson, Peacock

Best competition: Who wins the fourth and fifth spots?

Ryan BroylesWR Ryan Broyles (Photo: Detroit Lions)

Ross makes the cut more for his return abilities, but he showed he was an improved receiver in the spring and the Lions love his run-after-the-catch potential as a pass catcher. He’ll have some plays designed his way and could see significant time in the slot if he continues to trend upward.

The Lions are going to give Broyles every chance to make this team. Mayhew admires the way the former second-round pick has handled his most recent rehab stint and is pulling for him. It's good to have Mayhew on your side when making the roster is the end game.

Broyles still has to prove the explosiveness is back in his legs, though. If he does that, he should have a spot.

That leaves one open spot and a lot of different ways the Lions can go. Ogletree, Durham, Jones and Fuller seem to be the leading candidates to fill it.

Ogletree and Durham have more game experience; Fuller and Jones are recent draft picks by the Lions.

One interesting note from this offseason is that Jones was working a lot on the outside. That would make sense if the Lions like Ross and Broyles in the slot.

There really doesn’t seem to be a favorite in the clubhouse at this point. Let the competition begin in practice and the preseason.

2013 Stats
Calvin Johnson 14 84 1,492 17.8 87 12
Golden Tate 16 64 898 14.0 80 5
^Jeremy Ross 13 6 67 11.2 19 1
Ryan Broyles 6 8 85 10.6 22 0
^Kevin Ogletree 16 21 269 12.8 43 2
*TJ Jones 13 70 1,108 15.8 80 9
Kris Durham 16 38 490 12.9 40 2
Patrick Edwards 4 5 46 9.2 11 0
*Andrew Peacock 12 78 706 9.1 39 2
+Naaman Roosevelt 0 0 0 0 0 0
+Corey Fuller 0 0 0 0 0 0
+Cody Wilson 0 0 0 0 0 0
^combined stats from 2 teams       +didn't play in 2013        *college statistics

Twentyman’s take: Tate is the best No. 2 the Lions have had in Johnson’s tenure with the team. No disrespect to Nate Burleson, but he was more of a possession receiver. Tate can catch a five-yard pass and turn it into 80 yards. That’s nice to have in the bag when double coverage rolls Megatron’s way.

Tate is also sure-handed. He’s dropped just seven passes in four years. The Lions have led the league in dropped passes the last two seasons.

The one real wild card in all of this is tight end Eric Ebron, who is more of a big receiver than he is a tight end. With the ability to split out wide, line up in the slot or play in-line, Ebron is really three players in one. When it’s all said and done, and the coaches and front office staff get in that room to decide the 53-man roster, his versatility could potentially change the way the Lions feel about the numbers they need to carry at the receiver position. That’s the great unknown in all of this.

With a potentially healthy Johnson and Broyles, the additions of Tate and Ebron, and Ross’ seemingly steady progression, this receiving corps on paper has the ability to be much more explosive than anything the Lions have featured in quite a while.

By the numbers:

2,392: Yards gained after the catch by Lions receivers last year, third most in the league

5: Johnson registered his fifth career 200-yard receiving game last year in Week 8 vs. Dallas. It tied him with Lance Alworth for the all-time NFL lead

82.1: Percent of all passes caught by Johnson last year resulted in a first down.


“I think this offense is going to fit better for me as a player than Seattle's did.

“I watched some tape on the Saints over the last few years and just looking at that … see myself being a Lance Moore type of player, but just more explosive and able to do a few more things.

“That’s exciting, because Lance Moore caught a lot of balls and he’s a terrific player that did a lot for the Saints. That’s kind of how I see myself having the best receiver in the league (Calvin Johnson), and one of the best to ever to play the game, opposite of me or sometimes on the same side.”

--Lions new receiver Golden Tate