Under contract: Calvin Johnson (through 2012), Nate Burleson (through 2014), Titus Young (through 2014), Stefan Logan (though 2012), Nate Hughes (futures deal), Marcus Harris (futures deal), Terrence Toliver (futures deal)
The Detroit Lions finally have some really solid depth at wide receiver. For years they have been looking to build a wide receiving corps that is solid from top to bottom, and I think they accomplished that last offseason. At the very top, you have the best wide receiver in the league in Calvin Johnson. Behind him is Nate Burleson, who is a very nice complement to Johnson and a versatile receiver.
Perhaps the biggest positive change in 2011 was the addition of Titus Young. Many questioned the Lions' decision to select Young in the second round of last year's draft, and more and more people questioned the pick after Young missed most of training camp with an injury. He got off to a bit of a slow start as a result, but he came on strong down the stretch and ended up finishing with 48 catches for 607 yards and six touchdowns. Look for him to become even more involved in the offense in 2012.
The other receivers on the roster last season were Rashied Davis, Maurice Stovall and Stefan Logan, who is technically still a receiver even though he is mainly a returner who sometimes lines up in the backfield. Logan did have one catch in 2011 after not having any in 2010. As you can see by that stat, he isn't really on the team for his receiving ability. The same can be said about Davis and Stovall. Stovall actually only had one catch in 2011 and Davis only had four. They, like Logan, were on the team for their special teams abilities. Considering how much the Lions involve their tight ends and how infrequently the fourth and fifth receivers get used on offense, it's important for them to be able to play special teams.
Other receivers in the mix right now are Nate Hughes, Marcus Harris and Terrence Toliver. All three players are on futures deals after spending time on the practice squad and will try to make the team in training camp in the summer. Hughes really played well last preseason, and he probably would have made the team had one of the other receivers went down with an injury.
Need going forward?
Right now there isn't a huge need for depth or anything like that at wide receiver. However, it doesn't hurt to continue searching for talent both for competition in training camp and to build for the future. I could see the Lions drafting a receiver, although I wouldn't think he'd be taken in one of the earlier rounds. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if a free agent or two are brought in like Stovall and Davis were last year. They are both set to become free agents this year. One or both of them could certainly return, but if not, look for the Lions to look for receivers who excel on special teams.