Paul Sancya/Associated Press
The starting wideouts and primary recipients of the vast majority of wide receiver targets are set with Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate.
After that, a host of combatants will slug it out to fill the third wideout role.
Things would be a lot less complicated if Ryan Broyles (pictured) were reliable, but after three major leg injuries in as many seasons, his durability is a major question. He might even begin the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, which means he would miss at least the first six games.
Sixth-round draft pick T.J. Jones is, like Broyles, a natural slot receiver. From the draft review at Detroit Lions Draft:
He's quicker than fast but also fast, with light feet and the ability to plant and cut sharply without decelerating. He's not very big, and that poses issues for Jones as both a receiver but especially as a blocker. He has the makings of a quality 3rd wideout in the NFL.
It's worth noting his hand size, a rather stunning 10" on his 6'0" frame. Those are huge, and they serve him quite well as a receiver.
Kevin Ogletree and Jeremy Ross both have experience in the past for Detroit, with largely ineffective results. Each has one stellar outing in his career; Ogletree lit up the New York Giants in the 2012 season opener while playing for the Dallas Cowboys, while Ross had quite a memorable performance last Thanksgiving against the Green Bay Packers, the team that had cut him a few weeks earlier.
The reality here is that Ross is far more likely to serve as the return specialist and occasional fourth wideout, and Ogletree will be in a dogfight to even make the active roster. But a strong, consistent offseason could elevate either into a more prominent role.
Stranger things have happened. That's pretty much the only way to explain Kris Durham, after all.
If the season started May 19, Durham would be the third wideout. Last year, he spent most of the season as Detroit's No. 2 receiver. His painful inability to parlay that into anything positive is the reason why the Lions coveted Tate as a free agent.
Per Pro Football Focus, Durham caught just 12 of the final 36 balls thrown his way. Five of those registered as drops. He consistently struggles to get separation from defenders and almost never does anything after the catch, when he even makes it at all.
Lions fans need to hope that someone—anyone—beats out Durham for that third wideout spot. Having said that, it's important to keep in mind that tight end Eric Ebron will serve as the third receiver in the lineup, and the third wideout will essentially be the fourth receiver in the offense.