Lions fans learned the hard way last season how valuable it is to have good receivers. A Week 15 matchup at Buffalo saw quarterback Matthew Stafford heaving the ball to a blanketed Kenny Golladay in a fashion that resembled the old Stafford-to-Megatron days—only this time, it was happening seemingly every other play as no other receivers were open.
With Golden Tate’s departure leaving a crippled slot receiver position and Marvin Jones Jr. out for the season’s remainder due to injury, the Lions truly pushed the boundaries of how much they can burden one receiver late in 2018. It begs the question this year: if the same situation were to play out, who’s to step up?
Next Man Up: Travis Fulgham
The typical default personnel for an offense features two outside wide receivers, and thus we turn our eyes to the third outside receiver this time. Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay have both shown their ability to make highlight-reel catches and drag defenders through the mud, but it begs the question of who comes next?
There wasn’t a clear-cut answer for that last season when Matthew Stafford was being thrown around like a ragdoll in the pocket and Kenny Golladay was fighting off double teams. The Lions made sure to address that by drafting Fulgham and bringing in a host of big-bodied receivers as UDFAs as they look towards training camp.
I’d love to give this grade a “TBD”, but that would be no fun. The reality of the situation however is that this depth relies a lot on the development of Travis Fulgham or another rookie outside receiver who may step up during training camp.
I err on the good side of this grade as WR2 is technically depth (as Lions fans learned when Marvin Jones Jr. went down), and Bob Quinn has put the team in a very good position with Kenny Golladay as their No. 2 receiver behind Jones Jr. The argument can even be made that Golladay is WR1 and Jones is WR2, but, either way, the Lions are in no trouble there.
You could also say that the Lions need a more proven outside receiver on the depth chart after Kenny Golladay turned to a one-man show on offense late last season, but I firmly believe a lot of the problems came from the lack of a competent underneath/slot receiver rather than another big man out wide.
Bob Quinn did the smart thing in addressing the lack of depth with some low-risk draft capital, and it will be interesting to see how Fulgham’s development plays out in the coming months.