"Did the Lions improve?" is our latest series analyzing the Detroit Lions' roster in comparison to their 7-9 2015 season. Next up, we look at the wide receiver position.
2015 WRs: Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Corey Fuller, TJ Jones, Lance Moore
2016 WRs: Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, Corey Fuller, TJ Jones, Jeremy Kerley, Andre Caldwell, Jace Billingsley, Quinshad Davis, Jay Lee, Ryan Spadola, Corey Washington, Austin Willis
The loss of Calvin Johnson was the story of the offseason and leaves the Lions with a crater-like hole in their roster. Detroit did their best to mitigate the damage by immediately signing arguably the best free agent option in Marvin Jones. In addition to that, the Lions chose not to renew Lance Moore's contract, instead filling his spot on the roster with former Jets receiver Jeremy Kerley and former Bronco Andre Caldwell.
Did they improve?
Even the most Kool-Aid guzzling fan would have a hard time convincing anyone the Lions are better at the receiver position after losing Calvin Johnson to retirement. But how well did Detroit mitigate the damage?
Marvin Jones is a budding player who has increased his production each year that he has played (he sat out the 2014 season with a foot injury). There's no doubt Jones won't live up to the legacy Johnson has left, but Detroit is hoping to see his statline blow up like Golden Tate's did after a migration to the Motor City.
Outside of the Jones' addition, the Lions are also hoping to increase production from their depth. Corey Fuller, TJ Jones and Lance Moore combined for just 43 receptions. Jones and Fuller remain on the roster this season, but Detroit signed Jeremy Kerley (16 receptions in 2015) and Andre Caldwell (10 receptions) to push for competition. Detroit also added UDFAs Jace Billingsley, Jay Lee and Quinshad Davis who each have a chance to fill one of the last few spots on the roster.
What about compared to 2014?
2014 WRs: Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Jeremy Ross, Corey Fuller, Ryan Broyles, TJ Jones
Back in 2014, the Lions really only had two wide receivers on the team who had any meaningful contributions to the offense. However, one of those players was Calvin Johnson, so, no, the Lions receivers aren't better than they were in 2014, even if their depth has more potential today.