Assistant coach Antwaan Randle El expressed his opinion early in the offseason on how the Detroit Lions' offense would benefit from upgrading the wide receiver position for the 2022 season.
Randle El got what he wanted. The Lions made two significant offseason additions.
DJ Chark was signed as a free agent after four seasons with the Jaguars that included a Pro Bowl berth in the 2019 season. A 6-foot-4 speedster (4.34 in the 40-yard dash), Chark caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards and eight TDs that season.
There was more to come in the draft. GM Brad Holmes made an aggressive move on draft day. He traded up to draft Jameson Williams, a speedster from Alabama, with the 12th pick overall.
"We did a good job in terms of the picks we made, and going out and getting Chark," Randle El said near the end of the offseason workout program. "We're well on the way to enjoying it. It made our room much more competitive for sure.
"We're talking about the guys that can play – the talent from that perspective, and going and making plays, the physical nature. You have guys who are smart. That's what you want. It's good to have them. We want to take this thing to another level.
"Can't wait to get to training camp. Give us a good break. Freshen up and get ready to go."
Chark and Williams have top-level talent, but they aren't moving into an empty receiver room.
Holmes found a gem when he drafted Amon-Ra St. Brown in the fourth round of the 2021 draft. St. Brown had 90 catches for 912 yards and five TDs. Randle El does not expect him to get overshadowed by his new teammates.
"That's the dude, in terms of he gets it," Randle El said. "And he continues to get it. That's good to see."
Kalif Raymond, who had 48 catches while serving as the primary punt returner, Quintez Cephus and Josh Reynolds also could have roles.
The Lions are playing a waiting game with Williams. He sustained a torn knee ligament midway through Alabama's loss to Georgia in the national championship game.
Head coach Dan Campbell announced during minicamp that Williams will not be recovered in time to start training camp. Campbell also emphasized that Williams will not be rushed into action. He'll play when the medical staff clears him.
Williams is worth the wait, based on what he showed in his one season at Alabama after two with Ohio State.
Randle El was so excited when they selected Williams that he ran into the Lions' draft room to celebrate. He did not expect the Lions would get Williams, who can break a game open with his speed.
"It was not realistic, to be honest," Randle El said. "I wasn't sure at all, but I was really excited when we got him. The kid can play for sure.
"He was one of my top guys on the board in terms of rookies coming out. He was the top guy for me. He can get over that (the injury) for sure."