American Football

The Detroit Lions should prioritize wide receiver in the NFL Draft


NFL: Combine
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions have an overlooked need at the wide receiver position, and they should address it early in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Earlier in the week I put out my full 7-round mock draft for the Detroit Lions. I thought a lot about what I might do in that draft when it came time to pick for the Lions. I sat there at six with a chance at some fan favorites like cornerback Devon Witherspoon and defensive tackle Jalen Carter and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Don’t get me wrong, the Lions should draft a defensive lineman or two and a corner or safety wouldn’t hurt either. But does it need to be done right there? I just don’t think it does in a draft where you can get studs at those positions at a later time. So I traded down to help fill a position that might need to be filled more than any position on the Lions right now: wide receiver.

I said it in the mock draft piece and I’ll say it here again. Get over the Matt Millen stuff. Receivers are a premium position and while the NFL Draft is churning out good ones, you might as well go get yourself one of the best, especially when the Lions receiving corps is in the shape it’s in.

Now, when I say the shape it’s in, I don’t mean it’s bad. I mean it’s full of questions that need answers. Besides Amon-Ra St. Brown, there’s nothing to here to be sure about. The Lions feel like Jameson Williams is good and they hope that he will be, but there’s no proof that he is or can be just yet. I think Williams can and probably will be very good, but I can’t take that to the bank just yet.

Them there’s Marvin Jones Jr. I love Jones. He was a great player for the Lions and was pretty serviceable for the Jaguars in the last couple years, but he’s a one-year deal and he’s 33 years old. I’m sure he’ll be a productive part of the Lions current group, but beyond this season, who knows? A safe bet might be that Jones will be on his way and maybe just be done with football altogether. Maybe it’ll be full-time bundt cakes time?

Then there’s Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond. Both guys have shown that they can be reliable when the Lions call on them, but Josh Reynolds will be 29 after the season and Raymond will be too. On top of that, both of their contracts are up after this season.

Speaking of contracts, Amon-Ra St. Brown will probably be due for an extension by that time and he’s not going to come cheap. We’re talking about a guy that’s probably already a top-10 receiver and may surpass that in 2023. He will get paid. Then what?

If the Lions address the receiver area now, they can be a team in a couple years that has three very good receivers and only one of them is getting the big bag. That assures that your offense remains in a position to continue to be dangerous.

I’m not saying that the Lions can’t address this next year, but while they have a top pick and don’t have emergency needs elsewhere why not just do it this year?

I’ve been sold on Quentin Johnston because of his size and the things he’s able to do with his body at that size. I essentially see a tall Golden Tate when I look at him. He may not be there right away, but as he continues to get better, I see a very high ceiling for Johnston. I love any receiver that can make that contested catch and has a big catch radius.

It doesn’t have to be him and it doesn’t have to be with their first pick, but the Lions should try to grab one of the receivers in the first round. They should be looking at Johnston, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jordan Addison, or Zay Flowers.

It could be anyone of them, the Lions should just do what they can to make sure that their offense remains as dangerous as it can be for as long as it can be. That’s how you win in today’s NFL.

The Lions are entering their window right now and they can really make things happen this season with the best group they can put out there. On top of that, this move can also allow them to make sure they they’re built for the long run at this premium position.

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