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Returning from last season: Eric Fowler, Bryant Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Dennis Northcutt, Derrick Williams
New to the team: Brian Clark (signed as a free agent), Nate Burleson (signed as a free agent), Mike Moore (signed as an undrafted free agent), Contrevious Parks (signed as an undrafted free agent), Tim Toone (seventh-round draft pick)
The wide receiver is going to be a very interesting one to watch during training camp because there is so much uncertainty. We all know that Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson are locked in as the Lions' top two receivers, but after that everything is up in the air.
Going back to last season, the wide receiver position wasn't exactly all that great because there was such a big drop off after Calvin Johnson. Even he struggled a bit at times, but generally, when healthy, he was the only reliable target Matthew Stafford and Daunte Culpepper had. Players like Bryant Johnson and Dennis Northcutt were wildly inconsistent, and when they had to step up to the plate when Calvin was hurt, it wasn't very pretty, to say the least.
All of those issues at WR are why the Lions opened up their checkbook and brought in Nate Burleson. The expectation for Burleson is for him to be a complement to Calvin and somebody that could actually get defenses to take a little focus off of Megatron. Aside from the fact that there weren't many reliable targets last year, another issue was that defenses could simply focus in on Calvin Johnson. With Burleson now on the team, hopefully that will happen less and allow Calvin to have a bit more room to make plays. And even if that doesn't happen, then Stafford will at least have a player like Burleson to throw the ball to instead of having to always go to Bryant Johnson or Northcutt.
Depending on what happens during training camp, it's actually possible that Stafford won't have the option of throwing to BJ or Northcutt at all. The reason I say that is because their spots on the roster are by no means locked in, especially with quite a few young players looking to leave their mark. It's still a bit too early to speculate on which of the young receivers could step up, but one thing is for sure: WRs like BJ and Northcutt will have to step it up to make the team.
Need going forward?
The Lions have plenty of depth at wide receiver, setting up what should be a very good competition at the position later this summer. I could see the Lions bring a WR released by another team in just to change things up (like they did with Marko Mitchell), but chances are the current group of pass-catchers is what we will see when training camp begins. If anything, I wouldn't be surprised if a WR is released as the rest of the draft picks are signed. It's not like the Lions need to hang on to quite this many receivers, so if anything, they will be getting rid of somebody rather than adding another WR.
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