The Detroit Lions had one of the more eventful offseasons in the NFL when they swapped longtime quarterback Matt Stafford for Jared Goff from the Los Angeles Rams. The team made several cuts and their next biggest move was re-signing edge defender Romeo Okwara, who just had a breakout year and accounted for almost half of the team’s sacks last year.
Detroit is selecting seventh overall in the upcoming draft. The team should consider trading down and acquiring more picks to try and fix the numerous holes on their defense. If there is no offer good enough for trading down, then the Lions stay put and address their biggest positional need, which is wide receiver.
Although the team acquired receivers Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman in free agency, both come with question marks and do not exactly inspire a positional group that once had Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, Jr. Danny Amendola is almost certainly finding a new home.
Whether or not Goff is the starting quarterback in the future, the front office should at least give him some weapons and see if a team can be built around him. Fortunately for the Lions, this year has blue-chip prospects at the position.
The top tier of this year’s wideout crop the Lions might consider is composed of the trio of LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase and the Alabama duo of DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. All three have different playstyles, strengths, and weaknesses, although Chase seems to be the consensus number one at wide receiver. There is a significant drop-off after these three.
At 6’1, 201 pounds, Chase is a physical receiver with a solid build, capable of making tough catches. The Lions could surely use him. He fights for position and has reliable hands. Chase is devastating after the catch and this is one of his abilities that is sure to translate to the next level. He opted out of the 2020 season and his last collegiate season was spent catching passes from last year’s number one overall pick Joe Burrow.
There have been concerns around Smith’s lean frame, but his play speaks for itself. Only time will tell how he handles larger NFL corners. He is the most refined wideout in this class and while he won’t jump out of the building, he is a good athlete the Lions can take advantage of. Smith is a smooth route-runner and expertly gets separation from opposing defensive backs. The memory of him lighting up Ohio State in the national championship game is still relatively fresh in people’s minds.
Waddle is your classic deep threat and has game-breaking speed that can take the top off a defense and give Goff a target on the Lions. His damage in vertical routes will open up the field for his teammates. Think of him as this year’s Henry Ruggs III, who ironically was his teammate at Tuscaloosa. The gold standard in today’s NFL for players like Waddle is Kansas City Chiefs speedster Tyreek Hill.
If Florida tight end Kyle Pitts is available, he is another option as is an athletic marvel that can easily line up as a wide receiver. Do not worry Lions fans, he will not be the second coming of Eric Ebron. Depending on how the draft shakes up, the front office can give Goff a number one receiving option.