The 2020 Detroit Lions saw another big roster overhaul in the offseason, as head coach Matt Patricia tries to right the ship and get “his guys” into the building. However, one position was left fairly untouched.
While the Lions added a few names to their wide receiver group, the top four players from last year return, meaning we may not see a huge difference in the guys we see on gameday. Still, there are some interesting storylines to follow, including a significant position change.
Here’s our 2020 training camp preview for the wide receiver position.
Roster locks: Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola
On the bubble: Marvin Hall, Quintez Cephus, Geronimo Allison, Jamal Agnew
Long shot: Geremy Davis, Victor Bolden, Travis Fulgham, Tom Kennedy, Chris Lacy
Key departures: Jermaine Kearse
Can Jamal Agnew become a contributing receiver?
Earlier in the week, I discussed the viability of Jamal Agnew’s transition from cornerback to wide receiver. Will his role as a gadget player be increased this year? And if not, will that be enough to warrant a roster spot, along with his return abilities?
Those are big questions that will hopefully be answered when training camp begins, and how the Lions answer those question will likely affect the rest of the wide receiver depth on the team.
Who gets the special teams jobs?
Because there is no question about the top three receivers on the team, depth roster spots will likely be decided by special teams.
So which of these receivers will contend for a return job? Jamal Agnew, Marvin Hall, and Victor Bolden all have significant experience there, and they’ll likely be in rotation with Ty Johnson and Jason Huntley from the running back group.
But there are plenty of more unheralded special teams jobs that will also be up for grabs among the wide receiver group, including gunners. Chris Lacy got some experience last year, as did Travis Fulgham, and Geronimo Allison.
And with a new special teams coordinator aboard, all of these players will start on the same level and have to make a new impression during camp.
Any “long shots” capable of making an impression?
It’s not rare for a receiver to make a huge impression in camp and work their way onto the roster. Last year, it was Chris Lacy. The year before that, it was both Brandon Powell and Bradley Marquez.
Both Lacy and Fulgham have a leg up for being on the 53-man roster last year, but don’t sleep on a guy like Victor Bolden, whose speed could potentially challenge Marvin Hall’s roster spot if he plays well enough in training camp. And if Quintez Cephus proves to be much more of a project, Lacy flashed enough talent last year that he could reclaim a roster spot.
I put Geronimo Allison as “on the bubble” but he’ll definitely have to put in some work to climb the depth chart. Of the new faces, he’s the most experienced with 89 career catches and 1,045 yards, but his skill set isn’t all that much different from that of Cephus or Lacy, so in order to jump the two younger receivers, he’ll have to prove invaluable in training camp.
This one is pretty straightforward to me. Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola, Marvin Hall and Quintez Cephus all make the team. If there’s one player I think could contend for a spot, it’s either Geronimo Allison or Chris Lacy.
As for Jamal Agnew, I’m still undecided. I’m leaning towards him making the team, simply because his punt return talent is unmatched by anyone else on the roster. However, personally speaking, given how small of an impact both punt and kick returns have on today’s NFL, I’m not sure it’s worth a roster spot for a pure specialist. And I don’t think his offensive role will be significant enough, considering all the other weapons on the team.