Wide receiver might be the most intriguing position on the Detroit Lions' entire roster right now. Not only is the No. 3 spot at the position up for grabs, but really the entire depth chart beyond the top two spots is up in the air right now. We don't know how many receivers are going to make the team, and there are really five guys battling for a limited number of spots.
Here's what we do know at wide receiver: Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate are the starters. They're going to make the team, and their spots are set in stone.
Everything else is sort of a guessing game at this point, but let's go ahead and make a couple assumptions:
1. Jeremy Ross will make the team as the returner, so his spot at receiver is safe no matter what.
2. As long as he stays healthy, the Lions aren't going to cut Ryan Broyles.
Perhaps I'm overreacting too much to what Broyles has done in the preseason, but he's looked like one of the Lions' top receivers. After battling back from a third consecutive season-ending injury, I just can't see the Lions releasing Broyles based on how he's played so far in the preseason. Aside from the fact that he could contribute on offense, why would the Lions give up on him now that he's actually healthy?
If those two assumptions are correct, then that leaves one or two spots at receiver for Kevin Ogletree, Kris Durham and Corey Fuller. (With TJ Jones still on the PUP list, he isn't in consideration for a roster spot at this time.) Durham started in place of Johnson in the Lions' first two preseason games, and Ogletree has gotten a lot of work as the No. 3 receiver in training camp. Fuller hasn't exactly been getting reps with the first-team offense, but he has made several nice plays since the start of training camp.
The Lions really have a tough call here, especially if they only keep five receivers. Do you go with Durham, who has good size and could be yet another weapon in the red zone? Do you keep Ogletree, who has shown some promise as the No. 3 receiver in training camp? Or do you keep Fuller and bank on his upside being realized sooner rather than later? It's tough to say, but I'm going to scratch off Fuller right now based simply on how the playing time has been divided up so far in the preseason. It's clear that he's behind both Durham and Ogletree in the rotation, and as a result, I can't see him making the team right now.
With Fuller looking like the odd man out here, Durham and Ogletree would both be in good shape if six receivers make the team. If the Lions opt for only five, however, then there's only room for one of them. I feel like Ogletree would bring more to the offense than Durham, but then again, Durham has been the one stepping in for Johnson in the starting lineup. This is a pretty close race, and I keep going back and forth on these two players. Part of me feels like Durham has a slight edge, but I admittedly am just guessing at this point.
As for the five or six receivers aspect of this, it'll ultimately come down to how the Lions utilize the final spots on their 53-man roster. If they only keep two quarterbacks and one fullback, for example, then there should be room for six receivers. If an extra player is kept at one of those positions or another position, though, then it's going to be tough to find room for a sixth receiver.
With so many moving parts, the wide receiver position will be very interesting to watch in the final two weeks of the preseason.