Jared Goff has to be feeling like a kid in a candy story. He has a good reason to. The wide receiver core he had last year was mediocre at best, overall. Comparing his new weapons to last season, it’s a significant upgrade. As of now, the Lions have the best wideout unit in the division.
However, it’s all based on potential. And that unit believes in its potential.
As of now, the Lions top six wide receivers are DJ Chark, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jameson Williams, Josh Reynolds, Quintez Cephus, and Kalif Raymond. Don’t forget, they also have guys such as Kalil Pimpleton, Tom Kennedy, Corey Sutton, and Trinity Benson, who are trying to make the main roster.
That’s a loaded room. It’s an abundance of riches. Because of that, one of their best players has faith in what they can achieve.
“I think with the additions that we made this offseason, drafting Jameson (Williams), adding DJ (Chark), adding some other guys while still keeping the same guys we had last year, it’s going to be dangerous for a lot of teams,” said Amon-Ra St. Brown. “We got guys that can make plays. We got guys that are fast, guys that are quick. [And] guys that are big, we got all types of different receivers.”
“I’m excited to see what we do as a receiving core.”
St. Brown is going to be a significant part of that. He had a great close to his rookie year, proving he can be a threat and a very reliable target. He had the lowest drop rate among receivers last season with 70+ catches.
St. Brown is a stud, but he’s not alone. There’s the returning Josh Reynolds as well. The Lions acquired him midway through last season off waivers. And it proved to be a smart move, as his chemistry with Goff was immediately noticeable.
Another key factor in this Lions unit taking off is the returning Kalif Raymond. Dubbed by his teammates as one of the “fastest players on the team,” Raymond sees the potential of the team, but knows that as of now, that’s all it is.
“I think that’s exactly what it is, potential. But at the end of the day, what we are trying to do is make that potential exactly what we do on the field,” said Raymond. But the only way to do that is to put the work in.”
Raymond is doing his part. He’s putting the work in. From last season up until now, he has been an after-practice regular. Even when the work is done for the day, he’s not. He can usually be seen on the jugs machine trying to refine his game. He’s also putting in work elsewhere. He wants to take that next leap. “Leaf” said that he’s been working on his consistency. Specifically, getting in and out of his breaks, his hands, and bettering himself at reading coverages.
“I feel like if I know what the defense is doing, along with what I am doing, I know exactly where I gotta be,” said Raymond.
Raymond isn’t alone in honing his game.
Throughout the first week, Quintez Cephus appears to be on the upswing as well. After all, that circus catch he made earlier this week provided just a glimpse of what he can do when healthy. He has proved to be a freakish athlete several times over. And his route running is very respectable. He’s as solid as they come.
St. Brown, Raymond, Reynolds, and Cephus are all returning receivers from last year’s unit. They believe in this group’s chances to do something special.
But what do the newest additions feel about this group?
“I feel like we have potential but we have to keep stacking these days so that when it’s time, we show up,” said DJ Chark, who signed with the Lions this March. “That’s the only what really matters––showing up on Sundays. The work we’re putting in now is great. You know, we have Hard Knocks and things out here, but I feel like as long as we’re working quietly [and] putting in the work day after day, when it’s time to show people what we can do, we can take a lot of people by storm.”
“And one thing I appreciate about these guys is that they’re never in the media focused on trying to be listed as Top 10 on ESPN or anything like that. It’s nothing that we talk about. It’s a standard we’re trying to set among ourselves.”
That’s one hell of an endorsement for a player that just arrived. Especially since he hasn’t played a snap with his new teammates.
When the Lions take the field soon, the only target that won’t be immediately available is rookie Jameson Williams. The Lions traded up to the 12th overall pick in this year’s draft to take the speedy wideout. And his teammates are anticipating his debut. Once he’s added into the mix, it’s possible the Detroit Lions could catch lightning in a bottle.
Last but not least, the Lions also have T.J. Hockenson, whom many view as one of the top tight ends in the NFL. If he can stay healthy, he’ll prove to be a huge factor in the Lions passing attack. He’s simply that good.
With a favorable schedule, the Lions could shock the league. For that to happen, however, the potential of this unit must become a reality. By all accounts so far, the Lions wide receivers aren’t looking at it any other way.
Follow Kory Woods on Twitter at KoryEWoods.