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Lions adding speed at wide receiver this offseason

Brad Holmes is no stranger to retooling a wide receiver room in the NFL.

Holmes was part of the Rams' front office in 2017, when Los Angeles completely revamped their receiving corps with the addition of Robert Woods in free agency, and then drafting Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds. Those three have formed one of the more consistent receiving trios in the league the last four seasons.

Now the general manager in Detroit, Holmes is supervising his own retooling of Detroit's receiver room, one Holmes says was predicated on adding more speed to the unit.

The first domino to fall was the decision to not use the franchise tag on Pro Bowler Kenny Golladay, which allowed him to get to free agency, where he eventually signed a deal with the Giants that will pay him around $18 million per season.

"I always stated that (Golladay's) a very, very talented receiver, but we pretty much knew that – as with pretty much every year in terms of free agency and the draft, that it's relatively deep in both spots," Holmes said.

"It was a few different factors that went into it, but at the end of the day it was just making the right decision for the Lions, both not only short term, but more importantly long term. So, that was a decision that we came to. Wish Kenny nothing but the best in New York and was happy to see that he got a good deal."

Detroit signed veteran Tyrell Williams early in free agency to help stem the loss of Golladay. Since entering the NFL in 2015, Williams' four touchdowns of 75-plus yards are tied for the most. Among all NFL players with at least 175 receptions over that span, his 16.1-yard average per reception is third.

"Obviously, knew that the receiver group in general was thin when we first started this process. So, as we're kind of adding, it's like, let's just add speed," Holmes said. "Starting with Tyrell (Williams) – yes, he does have speed. That's an added benefit, but he's also long. He can adjust very, very well. He has aggressive hands. He attacks the football out of the air and then plus, he's got the speed to stretch it deep, obviously."

The Lions then added veterans Breshad Perriman, Damion Ratley and Kalif Raymond. Since 2018, Perriman ranks second in the NFL averaging 18.2 yards per reception. Among all players with at least 125 career receptions, his 16.5-yard average per catch is second highest.

Williams and Perriman are two of only four active players to average at least 16.0 yards per reception on 125-plus catches.

"Probably the fastest guy his size that I've seen running a 40," Holmes said of watching Perriman's pro day in 2016 and seeing him run a 4.25 at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds. "Just another element of him being able to take the top off the defense and have that element."

The Lions could also add a receiver or two via this year's NFL Draft, which might have the best receiver class to date. Ja'Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith and Kyle Pitts could all be options for the Lions at No. 7. The sheer talent and depth of this year's receiver class means teams are likely to get Day 1 starters well into the second day of the draft, and we could see impact receivers selected in Day 3 as well.

New Lions quarterback Jared Goff should feel pretty good about that.

"I do believe that will help Jared (Goff)," Holmes said of adding more speed at receiver. "I'm sure Jared won't have any frowns about having this much speed in the receiver room.

"Definitely, I believe in Jared, with his ability on the deep ball, and he has showcased it. His explosive plays in the past four years, explosive passes have been up there, so I think it'll be a good combination."

Holmes feels good about where the receiver room is at currently, and where it's still heading over the next month or so.

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