A few weeks ago, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press posed a question that seemed ridiculous on the surface: Do the Detroit Lions have the deepest set of wide receivers in the entire league? Just a year ago, the Lions were facing criticism that while Marvin Jones Jr. and Golden Tate were solid receivers, Detroit essentially had two No. 2 wideouts. Now we’re talking about the best depth chart in the NFL?
But 2017 changed a lot of people’s perception thanks to a career year from Jones. Jones not only broke the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career, but he did so with some serious highlight-reel catches.
So with Jones playing at his peak, Golden Tate keeping his streak of 90-catch, 1,000-yard seasons alive, and Kenny Golladay primed to break out, suddenly Birkett’s argument seems to have legs.
And now it’s not just local media that is impressed with the Lions’ receiving corps. Pro Football Focus inked an article for ESPN Insider (Subscription required) listing the best position groups in the NFL. While the Lions were not listed as having the best receivers in the league, they were the first runner-up.
“The Lions have one of the most balanced receiving corps in the league, with Golden Tate a run-after-the-catch monster (a league-best 22 broken tackles for receivers in 2017) and Marvin Jones an excellent deep threat (a league-leading 16 deep receptions in 2017). Kenny Golladay flashed as a rookie and could make this group even better in 2018.”
PFF listed the Minnesota Vikings as the team with the best receivers in the league, and they make a compelling argument. “Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen were the best wide receiver duo in the game last season,” PFF wrote.
The Vikings also added Kendall Wright this free agency, giving newly-added franchise quarterback Kirk Cousins plenty of receiving options this year. Here’s a look at the 2017 stats for the Lions and Vikings’ top receivers.
Marvin Jones Jr.: 61 catches, 1,101 yards, 9 TDs
Golden Tate: 92 catches, 1,003 yards, 5 TDs
Kenny Golladay: 48 catches, 477 yards, 3 TDs
Total: 201 catches, 2,581 yards, 17 TDs
Adam Thielen: 91 catches, 1,276 yards, 4 TDs
Stefon Diggs: 64 catches, 849 yards, 8 TDs
Kendall Wright: 59 catches, 614 yards, 1 TD
Total: 214 catches, 2,739 yards, 13 TDs
Obviously the numbers are pretty close here, but they’re also not completely fair. Kendall Wright was on the Bears last season, and was, essentially, the team’s No. 1 receiver. He likely won’t get that many opportunities in Minnesota. Still, adding a talent like his to the best duo of 2017 makes the Vikings’ receiving corps scary on paper.
But with Kenny Golladay poised to improve this year, the Lions could certainly make the argument for best receiving corps in the league. The only thing left to do is to play the games. Only [checks calendar]... ugh... four months until football.
Do the Lions have the best WR corps in the NFL?
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