Detroit Lions: Full Position Breakdown and Depth Chart Analysis at Wide Receiver

Brandon Alisoglu@@BrandonAlisogluCorrespondent IJune 16, 2014

Detroit Lions: Full Position Breakdown and Depth Chart Analysis at Wide Receiver

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    I won't drop any spoiler alerts. The competition for the top two spots of the Detroit Lions wide receiver depth chart figures to be fierce with no clear winners until August at the earliest.

    Now that we've eliminated the trolls who don't actually read because they're too busy sounding off in the comments section about my intelligence, logic and mother, we can all agree that the above statement is dripping in sarcasm. Congratulations for deciphering that.

    I'm sorry. It's a sickness.

    In all seriousness, aside from the top two spots and a couple at the bottom, the Lions depth chart at the position is a guessing game at this point. It's mid-June, and players will be certain to move up and down before the roster shakes out.

    Let's see how they stand as we march ever dutifully toward training camp.

12. Andrew Peacock

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    The Lions signed Andrew Peacock after the draft as a camp body and there's little to suggest he'll be much more than that moving forward. It's a harsh assessment, but an accurate one.

    Peacock stands just 5'9" and won't be dazzling anyone with his 4.72 speed, per NFLDraftScout.com. And unfortunately, not one of his 159 catches the past two season mean anything at this level.

    Without anything other than a benign mention from the Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett in a blurb that was really about cornerback Darius Slay, there hasn't been a stitch of real information about Peacock's performance. You shouldn't count on Peacock moving any further up the charts.

11. Cody Wilson

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    There's not much difference between Peacock and Cody Wilson as far as roster prospects go.

    Wilson, the former Central Michigan product, signed with the Detroit Lions after the 2013 NFL draft. That's the whole basis for his bump up the depth charta single year of professional "experience."

    He did finish his college career with 230 receptions for 2,729 yards, ending as a top-five all-time receiver for the Chippewas. 

    And that's all well and good, but it won't translate to any success with the Lions.

10. Naaman Roosevelt

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    The only thing keeping Naaman Roosevelt from occupying one of the bottom spots is his experience.

    Roosevelt, who also entered in the league as an undrafted free agent, signed with the Buffalo Bills in 2010. He fought his way onto the field for 16 games in his first two years, catching 25 passes for 396 yards and a score.

    Despite his relative success, he hasn't accumulated a single stat since 2011. He was cut from the Bills prior to the 2012 season and spent the 2013 in Cleveland.

    Again, the only mention of his performance thus far was a name drop in a Kellen Moore side note. There isn't much to suggest that Roosevelt's stay in Detroit will last long.

9. Corey Fuller

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    At least we're finally getting to names you should recognize.

    Barely.

    Corey Fuller was last year's sixth-round pick and was always going to be a project. He has the raw speed (4.43 40, per NFL.com) to be a deep threat in a wide-receiver heavy formation, but he needs to excel this offseason to make the active roster.

    As told to DetroitLions.com writer Tim Twentyman by general manager Martin Mayhew, Fuller has "really improved" since coming to Detroit. However, until he shows he can capitalize on his 6'2" size and blazing speed in pads, he'll remain buried on this depth chart.

8. Patrick Edwards

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Patrick Edwards built up a lot of buzz last offseason. In fact, former Lion Nate Burleson told Anwar Richardson, formerly of MLive.com, that Edwards was going to be a "playmaker" for Detroit in 2013. 

    Not so much.

    Edwards played in just four games, hauling in a grand total of five catches for a measly 46 yards. No matter how you slice it, a 9.2-yard average isn't enough to warrant playmaker status.

    Mayhew obviously thought enough of the 25-year-old wide receiver to give him another shot in offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi's new offense. Like all of the gentlemen behind him, he'll need a hard-to-imagine effort to see any real playing time in 2014.

7. Ryan Broyles

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    Ryan Broyles presents the single hardest question to answer on the roster.

    There's no doubt he has the talent to lock up the third spot, but will he ever get healthy?

    The last three years have all ended the same for Broyles—with a leg injury.

    Broyles' career stats (30 receptions, 395 yards, two touchdowns) don't tell the whole story of his potential. Rather, his career pinnacle thus far against Houston, when he nabbed six passes for 126 yards and posted a ridiculous 21-yard average, is the real mark of his talent.

    But will he ever get to use it? Once/if Broyles steps back onto the field, he'll rocket up the ranks. Until then, he'll have to settle for just outside of the rotation and the roster.

6. Kris Durham

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    It would appear that the reports of Kris Durham's death have been greatly exaggerated. At least it appeared that way for awhile.

    Justin Rogers of MLive.com reported on an OTA a few weeks ago, highlighting that Durham was running "crisp routes" and displayed "soft hands." Even if Joe Lombardi didn't actually name Durham, Rogers seemed to believe that the offensive coordinator's praise was directed at Matthew Stafford's college teammate.

    That's a great sign. It's just not one I'm willing to bank on yet. There is just too much evidence to the contrary to take these new developments at anything more than face value.

    Just last year, Durham was targeted 82 times and he only caught 38 balls, including 10 drops. He failed to gain separation on a consistent basis and needs the rest of the offense to create space for him to have any effect.

    Durham still has a fighting chance of making the roster, but he has plenty of work to do to beat out those in front of him.

5. T.J. Jones

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    This felt a little high for T.J. Jones considering it's almost impossible to track down any real notes about his performance thus far—except that he missed the second day of the most recent minicamp. 

    So why have him this high? For all the reasons listed on the Durham slide and the unblemished record of the young speedster.

    Yes, I'm giving Jones points because of his clean slate. Durham just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    Jones proved his sure-handedness during his tenure at Notre Dame, hauling in 70 passes for 1,108 yards during his senior season alone. That gives him a definite edge.

    The kicker is his 4.48 speed, per NFL.com. It's undetermined if he can create his own separation, unlike Durham, but at least he has the raw tools to exploit whatever space he sees. 

4. Kevin Ogletree

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    Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

    Much like Durham, I was shoveling dirt on Kevin Ogletree as recently as three weeks ago. On Lions Central Radio, I even called him an afterthought and dismissed the notion of him making the roster.

    I probably shouldn't take all the credit for providing the spark. After all, Ogletree is the one putting in the effort on the field.

    He's been so impressive that Joe Lombardi even gave him a shoutout. So I've decided that gives him a bump over the rookie who has never caught a professional pass.

    But that bump will only go so far considering he only has 78 catches in five years, only 13 of which have come with the Lions. 

3. Jeremy Ross

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    Tight end Eric Ebron would take over this spot if I was willing to drop the tight end from his moniker. But until the NFL determines that Jimmy Graham is a receiver, I'm leaving him off the list. 

    And that leaves Jeremy Ross.

    Just like Jones, this seems quite the lofty perch for a guy who hasn't proved much. And it is.

    However, Ross occupying this spot is more about the lack of better options on the Lions roster than Ross' skill. 

    Ross has proved himself to be an exciting return man with two return touchdowns to his credit. Yet, he still needs to prove himself as a receiver with just six total catches in his NFL career.

    Can Ross really be this good? Probably not, and I would wager that Jones passes him before it's all said and done. But this is all about today, and Ross has shown the explosion to warrant this spot over a rookie and a couple eventual journeymen.

2. Golden Tate

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Finally, we get to the exciting part. Too bad the fun only stretches to the second spot on the depth chart.

    Golden Tate is the crown jewel in an otherwise understated free-agency class. James Ihedigbo should have a solid impact, but the safety's contribution should pale in comparison to the former Seattle Seahawk.

    Tate brings his stellar hands to a wide receiving corps that desperately needs some consistency. Over the past four years, Tate has dropped a total of seven passes.

    In another testament to his strong hands, he only has three fumbles to his credit during that same time span. And lastly, Tate produced 530 of his 959 yards after the catch, in case you needed another reason to believe he deserves this position.

1. Calvin Johnson

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    What do I really need to say here? I seriously considered just writing "Calvin Johnson" and leaving the rest of the slide blank.

    Johnson is the current belt-holder for all NFL receivers. 

    Two years ago, he set the single-season record for receiving yards with 1,964. 

    Last year, he had 12 touchdowns to help offset his drop to "only" 1,492 yards.

    He also regularly jumps over three guys for touchdown receptions and he's in the prime of his career considering he'll start the season at 28 years of age. 

    What more can I say?

     

    All advanced stats are courtesy of Pro Football Focus unless otherwise noted.