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2022 Combine preview: Wide receiver

The 2022 draft class has plenty of top-end talent and depth at wide receiver.

As the NFL continues to become more and more of a passing league, young pass catchers are more and more valuable to teams. We could see a half dozen or more receivers taken in the first round this year, and teams will also find value in Day 2 and 3 of the draft at the position.

Top 5 wide receivers to watch at the Combine:

1. Garrett Wilson, Ohio State, 6-0, 188

A polished route runner with good run-after-the-catch ability, Wilson caught 70 passes for 1,058 yards (15.1 average) and 12 touchdowns in 11 games for the Buckeyes this past season. NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah compared Wilson to Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs, which is pretty high praise.

2. Drake London, USC, 6-5, 210

London has a big frame and a large catch radius with experience playing both outside and in the slot. He might be the best 50-50 ball receiver in the draft with his size, ball skills and toughness. He might not be a true burner, but he uses his body to shield defenders and make plays. He caught 88 passes for 1,084 yards and seven scores in eight games for USC in 2021.

View photos of the wide receiver prospects who were invited to the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.

3. Jameson Williams, Alabama, 6-2, 189

The Ohio State transfer hauled in an Alabama single-season record four touchdowns of 70-plus yards, leading all Division I receivers. He also totaled 11 touchdowns of 30-plus yards or more to lead the nation. Williams is a true deep threat, finishing third on Alabama's single-season receiving yardage list with 1,572 yards, averaging 19.5 yards per reception. He is recovering from an ACL tear suffered in the national title game.

4. Treylon Burks, Arkansas, 6-3, 225

Burks was a player Arkansas used in a variety of ways to try and get the ball in his hands. He averaged better than 16.0 yards per reception in all three of his seasons with the Razorbacks, finishing his junior season in 2021 with 1,104 receiving yards with 11 touchdowns in 12 games. He caught eight passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns vs. Alabama. He's a physical receiver and tough runner after the catch. He might be the best pure athlete of this year's group of pass catchers.

5. Chris Olave, Ohio State, 6-1, 189

Olave is a very smooth and precise route runner with terrific speed that allows him to gain separation at the top of his route. Olave knows how to find the end zone, notching 35 touchdowns in 38 career games at Ohio State. He can play both inside and outside, which speaks to his versatility as a pass catcher. His lean frame might concern some teams.

Combine sleeper to watch: Romeo Doubs, Nevada, 6-2, 200

Doubs was Carson Strong's top target for the Wolf Pack the past two seasons and went over 1,000 yards in both 2020 and 2021, with 20 combined touchdowns. He stood out at the Senior Bowl last month, and has a nice blend of size, speed and ball skills.

Lions need at the position: High

Lions wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle-El said at the Senior Bowl last month he'd love to see the competition in his room amp up this offseason by the team signing one receiver in free agency and drafting two more.

The Lions need a true No. 1 receiver on the outside to complement Amon-Ra St. Brown in the slot. They need a playmaker who can get down the field and can draw coverage on the backside.

Both Kalif Raymond and Josh Reynolds are unrestricted free agents, which leaves just four receivers currently on the roster under contract for next season. It's a terrific free-agent class of receivers this year, and this draft class is deep. Expect the Lions to be players both in free agency and the draft when it comes to filling their biggest need on offense this offseason.

Key stat: Of the Lions' 3,884 receiving yards this season, 2,111 came after the catch (54.4 percent), which was the third highest percentage in the NFL.

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