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2021 training camp preview: Wide receiver

On the roster: Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Quintez Cephus, Kalif Raymond, Geronimo Allison, Victor Bolden, Chad Hansen, Tom Kennedy, Javon McKinley, Damion Ratley, Sage Surratt

Key losses: Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola, Marvin Hall, Mohamed Sanu

Table inside Article
Name Games Rec. Yards TD
Tyrell Williams^ 0 0 0 0
Breshad Perriman^ 12 30 505 3
Amon-Ra St. Brown* 6 41 478 7
Quintez Cephus 13 20 349 1
Kalif Raymond^ 15 9 187 0
Geronimo Allison 0 0 0 0
Victor Bolden 0 0 0 0
Chad Hansen^ 5 17 236 1
Tom Kennedy 0 0 0 0
Javon McKinley* 12 42 717 3
Damion Ratley^ 5 4 63 0
Sage Surratt* 0 0 0 0

^with another team *college stats

Best competition: Last couple roster spots

The receiver position had probably the biggest makeover this offseason with the loss of Golladay, Jones, Amendola and others from last year's roster. Williams and Perriman bring some veteran stability to the group, but there's still a number of question marks surrounding this unit heading into camp.

One of those is just how many receivers the Lions will keep on the regular season roster. Does the fact that tight end T.J. Hockenson can split out and play off the line mean the Lions can get away with one less receiver? Does having another receiving tight end in Darren Fells change anything?

Let's just say the team looks to keep five receivers. That leaves one spot – barring any significant changes to the top four – for players like Raymond, Allison, Bolden, Ratley and others to try and earn a spot. Special teams could play a factor in the final spot as well. It should be interesting to see who emerges as roster candidates for the position.

Twentyman's take: Williams has been a 1,000-yard receiver in this league, and he looked to be one of Jared Goff's favorite targets among the receivers in the offseason practice periods open to the media. He was injured in 2020, but new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn knows him well from their time together with the Chargers. Williams will be looking to be a big part of the Lions' offense in 2021.

St. Brown had a good spring. He's my early favorite to win the slot receiver job, though he can also play outside. He's route savvy for a young player with good hands, and he's got some return ability as well, so he brings a lot to the table.

Another name to look out for is Cephus, who had a solid rookie season. He was productive this spring.

Overall there's a lot of potential in the receiver room, but also a lot of question marks because there's so much projection work when it comes to this group.

By the numbers:

6.5: Percentage of dropped passes last year by Lions pass catchers on catchable balls, which was third highest percentage in the league.

16.1: Career yards per reception average for Williams through five NFL seasons.

178: Career receptions at USC for St. Brown, which ranks 11th all-time at USC. St. Brown caught 60 passes as a true freshman in 2018.

349: Receiving yards by Cephus as a rookie in 2020, which was second most by a rookie receiver taken in the fifth round or later last season.

2,465: Receiving yards recorded by Lions receivers last year who are no longer on the roster.

Quotable: "Look, I think that's what all of this is about right now, to get a feel of who we have in this building and what they're capable of and who they are and how we use them," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said of the receiver corps. "That's what this is right now is a starting point. I'm not worried. They're not worried about the narrative out there. I'll tell you this, there are guys out there that we've been impressed with. We all have been as a staff just over these last two weeks, really.

"Tyrell Williams is going to be able to help us. There are things he can do. I see it. (WR) Breshad Perriman is going to be able to help is. There are things he can do. Kalif Raymond, there are things that he can do that you see. Victor Bolden's impressed us as well. (Quintez) Cephus was much better last week than the week before. There are guys that are impressive. (Amon-Ra) St. Brown, he's improving.

"It's a steady group. It's a group that's competing every day. What does that mean? Right now, it means that they're getting better. We're trying to identify the guys we can depend on. Out of the guys we can depend on, 'How can we use them? What do they do best and how do we use that skillset?'"

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