Pro Football Focus (PFF) ranked the Detroit Lions’ wide receivers 23rd out of 32 teams. Many may perceive the ranking as a bit harsh considering the talent present in the Lions’ locker room. In its recent article, “2023 NFL Receiving Corps Rankings: Cincinnati Bengals Reign Supreme for Second Consecutive Year,” PFF rankings included not just the wide receivers, but also considered the impact of tight ends and running backs in the passing game. For this reason, it’s puzzling that they failed to recognize two important names: Jahmyr Gibbs and Jameson Williams.
PFF’s 2023 NFL Receiving Corps Rankings
Here’s a quick glance at the rankings:
Top 5 Receiving Groups:
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Miami Dolphins
- San Francisco 49ers
- Seattle Seahawks
Bottom 5 Receiving Groups:
- Arizona Cardinals
- New England Patriots
- Tennessee Titans
- Carolina Panthers
- Houston Texans
NFC North’s Rankings:
- Minnesota Vikings: 7
- Chicago Bears: 13
- Detroit Lions: 23
- Green Bay Packers: 27
While Detroit Lions rank 23, a few slots above Green Bay Packers in NFC North, the ranking appears to be a significant underestimation.
Detroit Lions: A Closer Look
The Lions’ receiving group, featuring Amon-Ra St. Brown, Marvin Jones Jr., Josh Reynolds, and rookie Sam LaPorta, boasts a solid foundation. Amon-Ra St. Brown has ascended into the elite category, garnering a high 90.4 receiving grade last season, per PFF. Veteran Marvin Jones Jr., who joined the Lions in free agency, praised St. Brown on the “Twentyman in the Huddle” podcast, affirming “his work ethic is crazy… it’s great to have someone like that in the group.”
Despite the trade of T.J. Hockenson to the Vikings, the Lions still possess a young, versatile, and perhaps overlooked tight end group. Sam LaPorta, a recent 2nd round draft pick out of Iowa, holds great potential. Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson shared that during OTA’s “Sam LaPorta has been impressive for a rookie, in terms of digesting the offense right now.” As fans have observed during Detroit Lions’ OTA’s and minicamps, this second-round draft pick from Iowa might surprise everyone in the coming season.
What about Jahmyr Gibbs and Jameson Williams
A glaring omission from PFF’s ranking is Jahmyr Gibbs and Jameson Williams. Gibbs, despite being a rookie running back, led Alabama in receiving yards last season. Lions’ assistant head coach and running backs coach, Scottie Montgomery, had the following to say about Gibbs ability in the pass game:
We placed a high value on what he could do for our team from an explosive standpoint, creating more explosives, but not being limited to creating those explosives in the running game. So, he’s a guy that’s probably in my opinion is the best space player in this Draft, and what he can do with the football. There’s a tremendous amount of value for him as a football player and not only as just a back.
Similarly, Williams’ absence from the evaluation due to a six-game suspension overlooks his immense talent that could elevate the Lions’ ranking. Lions QB Jared Goff had the following to say about Williams:
He’s done a great job up until this point getting himself ready and just continue to work. We didn’t get the reps last year at this time and being able to dive into some of this stuff with him has been so important for him and I. We can’t wait to get him back.
The Unsung Heroes: Reynolds, Jones Jr. and Raymond
Josh Reynolds has consistently performed well alongside Jared Goff, and his reliability should not be underestimated. Likewise, Marvin Jones Jr. brings a veteran presence and proven track record with 58 career touchdowns and five 800+ yard receiving seasons.
Kalif Raymond, though he hasn’t received much spotlight, brings a versatile edge to the Lions’ receiving group. Lions’ Head Coach, Dan Campbell, celebrates his resilience and intelligence on the field, calling him their “Iron Man.” “He can play all of the positions… He is smart…tough…a go-getter…resilient,” Campbell said about Raymond.
PFF’s low ranking of the Detroit Lions’ wide receiver group may not fully capture the potential, versatility, and depth that this squad brings. With promising young talent and reliable veterans, the Lions may well exceed these expectations in the 2023 NFL season.
The Detroit Lions rank may be low, but their potential remains high.
For more from our Detroit Lions beat writer, Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21
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