2016 Position Breakdown: Wide receiver and tight end

The good: Detroit's passing attack ranked 11th in the NFL in 2016.

Golden Tate, Anquan Boldin, Marvin Jones Jr. and Eric Ebron all recorded at least 50 receptions on the season. In fact, Detroit became just the fifth team in NFL history to have five players record at least 50 catches in a season, as running back Theo Riddick (55) also got above 50.

View photos of the Detroit Lions wide receivers in 2016.

Jones Jr. averaged 16.9 yards per reception, which was the fifth-highest average in the NFL. Though his production tapered off the second half of the season, he proved he could provide Detroit's offense chunk plays.

Tate produced his third-straight season with at least 90 catches, and led all NFL receivers with 635 yards after the catch.

Boldin found the fountain of youth in year 14 of his NFL career as he notched eight touchdowns, which led the team and tied for the third-most in his career. It was also the most since he had 11 with Arizona in 2008.

Eric Ebron continued to see his numbers improve in his third season. He set career highs for catches (61) and yards (711), though his one touchdown was a considerable drop-off from the five he posted last season.

Andre Roberts and TJ Jones did a nice job as the No. 4 and No. 5 receivers, making plays when given opportunities to do so.

The bad: Drops were a key issue throughout the season for Detroit's pass catchers. The Lions finished with the third-most drops in the NFL (28) and the fourth-worst drop percentage (6.7).

Detroit's receivers and tight ends accounted for 24 of those drops. Not included in that total were key drops by Ebron (2), Tate and Jones. Jr. in Detroit's 26-6 loss to Seattle in the playoffs.

Ebron's seven drops in the regular season led the team.

There were also times this season when Detroit's receivers struggled to get open vs. press coverage. As they struggled to do so, they saw more and more of it.

Key stat: While Tate led all receivers in yards after the catch, the Lions as a team finished fourth (2,228) behind the Saints (2,439), Falcons (2,382) and Patriots (2,334).

A big part of Jim Bob Cooter's scheme is getting playmakers in space and letting them do what they do best, which is make defenders miss.

That total was with Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick, two of the Detroit's best run-after-the-catch performers, missing a combined 21 games.

Free agents: Boldin and Roberts are unrestricted free agents.

Boldin told reporters after Detroit's loss in Seattle that he'd like to play a 15th season. He ended up being one of GM Bob Quinn's best free-agent signings, becoming a security blanket for quarterback Matthew Stafford in the middle of the field, and leading the team with those eight touchdown receptions.

Roberts played in 24 percent of Detroit's offensive snaps this season, primarily as the No. 4 receiver, but made the most of his opportunities when given a chance. A number of those 14 receptions were late in games in crucial moments.

His 12.3 average per punt return ranked second in the NFL behind only Kansas City's Tyreek Hill (15.2). His two punt-return touchdowns were tied for the league lead.

Reserve tight ends Matthew Mulligan, Clay Harbor and Tim Wright are all unrestricted free agents.

TJ Jones is an exclusive rights free agent.

Draft: This isn't an eye-popping class of receivers, but there's good quality at the top with prospects that should hear their name in the first couple rounds.

Clemson's Mike Williams and Western Michigan's Corey Davis, two big, physical receivers with speed, lead the group.

JuJu Smith-Shuster (USC), John Ross (Washington), Cooper Kupp (Eastern Washington) and Dede Westbrook (Oklahoma) round out the top of the class.

Alabama's O.J. Howard is considered the only first-round talent at the tight end position. It seems unlikely the Lions would be in the market for a tight end that high in the draft, but who knows.

One value pick the second or third day of the draft would be Michigan's Jake Butt. A torn ACL in Michigan's bowl game will likely drop his stock from a borderline Day 1 pick to somewhere in Day 2 or 3.

MVP: Jones Jr. carried the group early in the season, but Tate ended up being the most valuable player on Detroit's receiving corps for the totality of the season. He led them in both receptions (91), yards (1,077) and was also tops on the team in first downs with 47.

Tate is built like a running back, which allows Cooter to use him in so many different ways. After a slow start, Tate came on strong and finished as Detroit's top playmaker at the position.

The honorable mention goes to Boldin. Not only did he lead the Lions in touchdowns, but he also led them in third-down receptions with 23.

Quotable: "We certainly did not catch it as well as we'd like and that just takes constant work," head coach Jim Caldwell said in his postseason press conference when asked about the drops.

"I think you guys watch our practices enough. You see balls flying all over the field pregame and during. The reason why is because of the fact that we want every guy to touch the ball as many times as he possibly can. We're just trying to improve our chances of getting better and you've just got to keep doing it. You've just got to keep working at it. You've got to keep working and there's been some guys that have gotten better.

"Does that mean they're going to have a game or two where that's going to be a problem? Possibly, but the problem is when you do have a game, if you have too many of those guys doing it it's going to hurt you where it did. It hurt us the other night (in Seattle)."

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