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NFL Scouting Combine

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Lions could find WR they're looking for in 2022 draft class

INDIANAPOLIS – New offensive coordinator Ben Johnson was clear when speaking to the local media assembled at the NFL Scouting Combine Tuesday that for this Detroit Lions' offense to take the next step, they need an outside receiver or two who can make plays outside the numbers and down the field.

The good thing for the Lions is it looks like there's plenty of those receivers in this year's draft. The Lions are likely to be in the market for a veteran receiver in free agency, which comes first, but don't be surprised if they double up their efforts to bolster the competition by selecting a young receiver in the draft too.

This year's draft class of receivers is one of the most skilled and deep position groups in this draft.

Garrett Wilson (Ohio State), Drake London (USC), Treylon Burks (Arkansas), Jahan Dotson (Penn State), Chris Olave (Ohio State) and Jameson Williams (Alabama) all made NFL analyst Daniel Jeremiah's list of the top 50 prospects. Lions general manager Brad Holmes said Tuesday receiver was one of the four deepest positions in this class.

The Lions could certainly be in the conversation at receiver with the last pick in the first round (No. 32) or the second pick on Day 2 (No. 34).

A player like Williams could make sense. He hauled in an Alabama single-season record four touchdowns of 70-plus yards this past season, leading all Division I receivers. He also totaled 11 touchdowns of 30-plus yards or more and finished third on Alabama's single-season receiving yardage list with 1,572 yards, trailing only DeVonta Smith (1,856) and Amari Cooper (1,727).

"My deep-play threat is exciting," Williams said Wednesday at the Combine. "It happens frequently, so I feel like it'll be a big add on to whatever team selects me."

Burks is a big, smooth, versatile athlete who was a jack-of-all-trades for the Razorbacks last season. He was really fun to watch when he was on the outside matched up one-on-one. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Burks has to have custom XXXXL gloves made for him, because his hands are so big. He had eight catches for 179 yards and two touchdowns in a game against Alabama this past season.

Burks was asked Wednesday what the best part of his game is when he's playing out wide, and his response should excite Lions fans.

"Just being out there on an island being matched up one on one with a corner and just knowing that I'm fixing to go overpower him with my physicality and my speed and beat him one-on-one," he said.

Dotson (5-11, 184) could have some of the best hands in the draft and is another player who's expected to come off the board in the late first to early second-round range. He caught 91 passes for 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns this past season for the Nittany Lions. He averaged better than 15.0 yards per reception during his Penn State career.

"Definitely my versatility, playing inside and outside, being able to play any wide receiver position on the field," Dotson said of the attributes he'll bring to the next level.

"When I get the ball in my hands, it's exciting. I'm an explosive player. Very fast. I can take the top off a defense. I'm just ready to make the most of my opportunity wherever I land."

London (6-5, 210) is a big-bodied receiver who says he tailors his game after other big receivers like Lions Legend Calvin Johnson and Tampa Bay's Mike Evans. He also played basketball at USC. London is so athletic, he said he can throw down a 540 dunk.

"I think I'm competing against everybody," London said of where he fits in this class of receivers. "We all have our different distinct versatile attributes, and that's what sets us apart from all of each other. And I'm just trying to find that one that I could set myself apart from everybody else."

It's certainly a deep and talented class at receiver, and it comes at a perfect time, when the Lions view adding a dynamic player on the outside as their biggest need on offense.

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