Our latest series on the Detroit Lions roster continues with a comparison of the wide receiver position from 2012 to 2013. Did the Lions improve at wide receiver? Let's take a look.
2012 WRs: Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Ryan Broyles, Titus Young, Kassim Osgood
2013 WRs: Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Ryan Broyles, Mike Thomas, Corey Fuller, Micheal Spurlock, Kris Durham, Devin Thomas, Patrick Edwards, Terrence Austin, Cody Wilson, Matt Willis
At this time a year ago, the Lions appeared to be absolutely set at wide receiver. That was before Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles got hurt and Titus Young became a problem. Now, the Lions are entering the 2013 season with a top three of Calvin Johnson, Burleson and Broyles. The No. 4 spot in the rotation is squarely up for grabs, mainly because the Lions struck out with guys like Darrius Heyward-Bey, Domenik Hixon and Josh Cribbs during free agency.
Did they improve?
This is a definite no in my mind. Once fully healthy, Broyles should continue to emerge as a top target for the Lions, and Johnson is obviously among the very best players in all of the NFL. However, the Lions weren't seemingly able to add a wide receiver capable of taking some attention away from Johnson. Reggie Bush will hopefully be able to do that, but at wide receiver, there is a need for more talent, at least on paper.
What about compared to 2011?
2011 WRs: Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Titus Young, Rashied Davis, Maurice Stovall
What's interesting about the 2011 Lions is that they didn't have much talent at wide receiver beyond their top three since Rashied Davis and Maurice Stovall were primarily special teams guys. In that regard, there's not a huge difference from 2011 to now. Burleson is a couple years closer to the end of his career, sure, but Broyles is more than capable of replicating what Young did in 2011. More than anything, this reinforces the notion that a big part of the Lions' success in the passing game depends on the tight ends and running backs.
(Note: Players listed from 2011 and 2012 are based on the Lions' Week 1 roster in those seasons.)