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Mailbag: Should Detroit Lions be concerned about their WR room?

With a slow start to OTAs and Jameson Williams’ suspension, should the Detroit Lions be worried about their wide receiving corps?

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Detroit Lions David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

As I pointed out earlier in the week, my biggest takeaway from Detroit Lions minicamp and OTAs was the drastic improvement of the team’s secondary. As always, though, there is a downside to one unit performing well in practice—the corresponding unit on the other side of the ball not playing well.

Naturally, some have started to question whether the Lions’ wide receiver group is where it needs to be. Last year, the Lions passing offense ranked in the top five of most statistical categories, so they can ill afford regression there.

While DJ Chark may not have produced wild numbers in 2022, the offense was clearly better with him in the lineup than out of the lineup, so the loss of him this free agency is notable. Did the Lions do enough to replace him with Marvin Jones Jr. and the eventual return of Jameson Williams after his suspension? Is Williams’ slow start to offseason workouts a concern? Are the additions of tight end Sam LaPorta and running back Jahmyr Gibbs enough to compensate for any skill position losses?

That’s one of our main topics this week on our Midweek Mailbag podcast with myself and Erik Schlitt. Here’s a portion of that discussion.

Erik: “You look at the fact that the Lions run such an immense amount of play action and the run game hasn’t even been accounted for yet (in OTAs), most of the time you’re seeing (the defense have) more drops into shells in your coverage. So it’s a little harder for them to find separation, especially because a lot of them aren’t built like that... I think when you add pads and a running game, it’s going to open things up a lot more for the guys on the perimeter, but the slots have looked very good.”

Jeremy: “I know people are also probably yelling, ‘What about Jahmyr Gibbs? He’s part of the passing game,’ and all of that is true. But, again, we’re talking about stuff over the middle. We’re talking about Amon-Ra (St. Brown), we’re talking about (Sam) LaPorta, we’re talking about Gibbs—all guys that are going to attack up the middle. So who’s going to win on the outside? I think that is a legitimate question to ask, because Marvin Jones is going to be a great contested catch guy, but is he going to separate a lot at 33 (years old)? The answer is probably no. So will Jared Goff trust a guy who’s not open and he doesn’t have a ton of experience with?”

That conversation starts and continues around the 11-minute mark of the podcast below. Here are the other topics on this week’s show.

  • Are secondary improvements due to more overall talent or more diverse coverage schemes due to talent? (2:30)
  • Evaluating the Lions rookie WRs—Antoine Green, Chase Coda, Dylan Drummond—at OTAs/minicamp (7:15)
  • Are any rookies looking like they have a longer developmental curve? (16:00)
  • Any concerns about comments from Kelvin Sheppard that there is no guarantee Jack Campbell starts in Week 1? (18:45)
  • If you were the franchise of an NFL expansion team, who would you poach from the Lions? (27:00)
  • Will special teams still be prioritized in selecting the final few players on the 53-man roster or is Lions team talented enough to value offense/defense skills? (29:30)
  • Does Chase Lucas still fit on the roster? (38:15)
  • James Houston vs. Julian Okwara (41:30)
  • Brian Branch hype (46:50)

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