The NFL draft has come to a close and the Detroit Lions have a set of shiny new rookies who are raring to get their feet wet at the next level. It also means that we are getting our first clues as to how the final 53-man Lions roster will look come August.
While wide receiver seemed like a need for the Lions entering the 2019 draft, they did not address the position until the sixth round where they selected Old Dominion receiver Travis Fulgham.
As great as Fulgham may be, there is never a guarantee that someone drafted in the sixth round will make the final roster. This leaves the wide receiver position wide open as we head towards NFL training camp in a few months.
Right now, there are only three wide receivers who are locks to make the roster. Marvin Jones Jr., Kenny Golladay and newly-signed Danny Amendola will all be around this season. After them, it gets a bit murky.
Fulgham is the obvious favorite to make the roster behind them. The rookie is a big-bodied receiver with great speed. While he may not have the quickness to be the type of quick twitch receiver Detroit seems to love, he still has the skills needed to carve out a role on an NFL roster.
There will be a few other guys in camp who will be battling him for a roster spot, though.
Brandon Powell may be a polar opposite of Fulgham. He is a 5-foot-8, 178-pound receiver that slipped through the cracks as an undrafted free agent last offseason, but managed to make the 53-man roster after an impressive preseason. Powell is a great, twitchy, receiver who can do wonders with the ball in his hands and provides an additional option in the return game. He saw some use in 2018, catching 11 passes for 129 yards and even getting a starting designation late in the year.
Andy Jones is another returning depth receiver. He spent the past year bouncing between the Lions practice squad and active roster, before finally getting a chance to shine late in 2018. He caught 11 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. His versatility may win him points with the coaching staff, though, as he proved to be a great run blocker in the eight games he played last season.
Detroit also signed former New Orleans Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis earlier this offseason. He only caught three passes in 2018 as he fell out of favor, but has caught 20 passes for 252 yards over the course of his three-year career. He also has more “big game” experience than anyone else on this list, as he has been a part of two playoff runs including his involvement in the 2019 NFC Championship game. Lewis also brings some value as a return man.
Receivers Chris Lacy, Brandon Reilly and Deonte Alexander will be around as well. While they all were brought on board to be camp bodies, they still have a chance to make a positive impression over the next few months and enter their names into the ring.
Jonathan Duhart, college teammate of Fulgham at Old Dominion, and Andre Wilson of UAB were both also reportedly signed as UDFAs who have a chance to steal a roster spot, similar to how Powell did last year.
In 2018, the Lions held on to five receivers for their Week 1 53-man roster. Golladay and Jones Jr., were a part of that group. Amendola will replace Golden Tate’s spot. Detroit elected not to retain TJ Jones and Powell probably did not do enough last season to feel comfortable with his spot either.
This leaves a maximum of two roster spots up for grabs between nine players. If Detroit chooses to hold on to a fifth running back—which became a possibility when they drafted Ty Johnson in the sixth round—then the team may only hold on to four receivers.
Detroit still has three months left until training camp officially opens in late July, but it already is shaping up to be a heated affair.