Looking back at the Detroit Lions’ 2021 roster in Week 3, and it isn’t very inspiring at the receiver position. Kalif Raymond led the position group with 47 snaps against the Baltimore Ravens with Quintez Cephus (45), Amon-Ra St. Brown (27), and Trinity Benson (24) all getting significant playing time as well. It’s no wonder Jared Goff struggled at quarterback through the first half of the season.
But Lions general manager Brad Holmes wasn’t going to go into 2022 with the same problem. At the start of the offseason, Detroit was already in a better place after Josh Reynolds fell in their lap midseason and St. Brown broke out in the final couple months of the year. Holmes wasn’t satisfied with just that, however. He followed the wide receiver market closely in free agency and ended up landing DJ Chark on a one-year deal. Then Holmes made his most aggressive move to date, jumping 20 spots in the first round to grab Alabama receiver Jameson Williams.
Now the top of the Lions’ receiver room looks like this:
- Jameson Williams
- DJ Chark
- Amon-Ra St. Brown
- Josh Reynolds
- Kalif Raymond
- Quintez Cephus
... and that’s not including passing weapons like tight end T.J. Hockenson or running back D’Andre Swift.
While this may not be the top receiving corps in the league, it is definitely above average and it’s more than enough for a good quarterback to thrive. The question is: which receiver will be Goff’s favorite target?
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Which Lions receiver will finish the 2022 season with the most receiving yards?
My answer: Let’s break down the options.
Williams is clearly considered the team’s No. 1 receiver. Holmes wouldn’t have spent that much draft capital on him if he didn’t view him as an absolute game-changer. However, his torn ACL suffered in January could cause him to miss some early games, and there’s no guarantee he and Goff will have immediate chemistry when he does hit the field.
Injury is also a concern for Chark, who has only played 17 games in the past two seasons. However, Chark is only three years removed from a Pro Bowl season in which he tallied 1,008 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. And as a reminder, Gardner Minshew and Nick Foles were throwing him the ball that year. If Chark can stay healthy for 17 games, he’s a solid candidate to lead the team in receiving yards, but that’s a big if.
Amon-Ra St. Brown
St. Brown had one of the strongest finishes to the 2021 season among all NFL receivers. Here are his stats and rankings compared to other wide receivers from Week 13-18:
- Catches: 51 (2nd)
- Receiving yards: 560 (3rd)
- Receiving touchdowns: 5 (t-3rd)
If you were to stretch that six-game production to a 17-game season, it would look like this:
144.5 catches, 1,586.7 yards, 14.2 touchdowns
Okay, so that’s not going to happen. With more passing options for Goff—remember, Hockenson was out with an injury during most of St. Brown’s stretch—St. Brown isn’t likely to get as many looks as he got late in the season. However, the addition of both Chark and Williams should open up the middle of the field for St. Brown. So while 1,500 yards is probably out of the question, St. Brown very well could surpass 1,000 in his second NFL season.
From the first snap of training camp, it was clear that Hockenson and Goff were trying to build something special. They barely ever left each other’s side, and clearly had some playing and personal chemistry between the two.
That chemistry never quite reached its potential on the field. Hockenson got plenty of targets in 2021 but turned that into just 583 receiver yards in 12 games, or just 48.6 yards per game.
Was that the result of Hockenson not living up to expectation or defenses keying in on him due to Detroit’s lack of other receiving options? The answer is likely a little bit of both, but Hockenson should no longer be hampered by extra attention from opposing offenses in 2022. So is this the year he establishes himself as a top-five tight end?
For me, this answer is down to two options: Chark and St. Brown, because I’m under the impression Williams will miss at least a few games to start the season. Ultimately, I give the edge to St. Brown due to his proven chemistry with Goff and an endless work ethic. He’s a versatile weapon and Detroit would be wise to put him all over the field to get him the best defensive matchup. With other players drawing attention away from him, he may not be as good as he was in that insane finish to the season, but the drop-off may not be that much.
Who will lead the Lions in receiving yards in 2022?
This poll is closed
Amon-Ra St. Brown