Last season the Detroit Lions lacked serious depth at the receiver position. Now, it seems someone the organization was undoubtedly counting on to help contribute may find himself on the outside looking in. Quintez Cephus might find himself on the roster bubble this summer unless he can find a way to ‘wow’ the coaching staff.
With every draft cycle, there are usually a few veterans that used to feel irreplaceable, along with a few depth contributors looking for employment elsewhere. That’s just how it goes in the NFL. This offseason, there had been no position maybe other than at linebacker or safety the Detroit Lions needed to improve more than at wide receiver.
General manager Brad Holmes made a conscious effort to improve the roster in these three areas. Suddenly, the Lions appear to have a rock-solid group of pass-catchers heading into the 2022 season.
The Lions overhauled their receiver room this offseason.
On the first night of the 2022 NFL Draft, Holmes shocked the world when the Detroit Lions traded up with a divisional rival to draft an offensive weapon. Jameson Williams is just what the doctor ordered for Jared Goff and the Lions’ offense. Williams is a future WR1 but will be sidelined for a while, nursing a torn ACL.
Last year, Detroit saw the emergence of rookie receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown who will work predominantly out of the slot. Holmes signed free agent DJ Chark to a one-year ‘prove-it’ deal. Chark is a big-bodied pass-catcher that possesses 4.3 speed. The 25-year-old, 6-foot-4 receiver fills a significant need as the primary target on the outside this upcoming season. Chark was limited to just four games last season with the Jaguars due to a fractured ankle. The year prior, Chark missed three contests with a broken finger.
Following St. Brown, Williams, and Chark on the depth chart is Goff’s safety net, Josh Reynolds. Reynolds and Goff built excellent chemistry with one another during their time with the Los Angeles Rams. After things didn’t go so well for the veteran pass-catcher in Tennessee last season, they could capitalize on their familiarity with each other in Detroit. The Lions liked what they saw in Reynolds enough to reward him with a two-year contract extension.
Will Quintez Cephus have a role with the Detroit Lions in 2022?
This team’s first four receivers are established, leaving three players competing for one spot. It comes down to Kalif Raymond or Quintez Cephus, but Trinity Benson needs to be added to the mix. I mention Benson because general managers are usually stubborn to a fault, no matter the sport with certain players. Holmes traded for Benson before the start of last season, and we’ve heard murmurs throughout the offseason that the move was more for the future. I don’t see a role for Benson on this club.
So, by default, we’re down to Cephus and Raymond.
Last season, Raymond came out of nowhere and caught 48 balls totaling 576 yards and four touchdowns. Cephus was limited to just five games last season, but he’s amassed 553 yards on 35 receptions totaling four touchdowns in two years. Both players have been productive as professionals, but at this point, Raymond should be viewed as the more valuable option.
As you get further down a depth chart, teams are looking for players who can contribute in various ways; that doesn’t describe Cephus but does Raymond. Raymond can help this team on special teams and is a valuable punt returner. Last season Raymond galloped for 236 yards, good for an average of 11.2 yards per return.
At this point, Cephus seems like nothing more than a no. 5 receiver. Raymond has proven he can be that, plus bring some juice to special teams. The former fifth-round pick may be expendable unless he has a miraculous training camp and preseason.