The Detroit Lions started the day with pick No. 249 in the seventh round of the 2023 NFL Draft, but after a trade involving D’Andre Swift, they were able to upgrade that pick to No. 219. And with that pick, the Lions selected North Carolina wide receiver Antoine Green.
A dangerous deep threat at North Carolina, Green averaged 19.1 yards per reception and a touchdown every 6.6 catches over his two seasons as a starter. Green has the range to contribute as a WR-Z, but his frame—6-foot-2, 199 pounds—and upside make him a likely contributor in the WR-X role in the NFL.
As a rookie, expect the Lions to lean on his strengths, and for Green, that’s his ability to stretch the field, likely from the X and Z roles. With 4.47 40-yard dash speed, Green can get loose downfield but his speed needs a bit of runway to hit his maximum output. Because of his lack of explosion, Green doesn't get a ton of separation, but his ability to track and high-point the ball is a big catalyst to his success.
“I think my strength as a player is I can stretch the field,” Green told Justin Melo of The Draft Network. “I can read a defense pretty well ... do whatever I need to do to get open. I’ve got a big body, tall, I have great hands and playmaking ability.”
Green’s ability to ascertain defensive plans, along with his NFL-level tracking skills and ability to finish plays come into play on the deep ball and potentially in the red zone.
He still needs to further develop his route tree, but as his experience is developed, it should also help him find ways to separate more consistently.
Like most players—especially rookies—on the Lions, Green will get cross-trained at multiple wide receiver positions, but based on his skill set, expect him to stay on the outside at the X and Z positions.
Marvin Jones should be a great mentor for Green based on the player he is now, but Green should also lean on Josh Reynolds, who should be able to help him develop his positional range.
With Jameson Williams suspended for the first six games of 2023, the path to the roster could be a bit easier for Green, but the depth battle at wide receiver will tighten up in camp as players jockey for position. As a rookie, Green should have a legit shot at being WR6, but once Williams returns, Green will have to prove he can outplay players like Trinity Benson and Tom Kennedy.