Last season, the Detroit Lions had the worst wide receiver corps in football. This year, the group is one of the Lions’ strengths. With the addition of Josh Reynolds prior to Thanksgiving and the emergence of rookie receiver Amon Ra St. Brown, the receiving core took a big leap in the second half of the 2021 season. The off-season additions of DJ Chark and Jameson Williams will be huge, along with Quintez Cephus making his return after suffering a season ending injury.
Amon Ra St. Brown
St. Brown was a huge surprise last season. The fifth round pick emerged as Jared Goff’s favorite target. St. Brown finished the season with just under 1000 scrimmage yards and 6 touchdowns. St. Brown had his coming out party against the Minnesota Vikings, where the Lions grabbed their first win. St. Brown caught his first touchdown against Minnesota, which happened to be with no time on the clock to win the game. He finished the game with 86 yards on 10 receptions, and completely took off after that game. From that game on, St. Brown became Goff’s favorite target. From week 12 St. Brown tallied 621 scrimmage yards and six touchdowns. St. Brown excelled out of the slot and looks to be the future at that position.
Chark was the Lions’ big free agency signing. Chark signed a one-year prove it deal, worth $10 million. Chark, when healthy, can be the jump ball receiver the Lions have been looking for. Chark had a injury riddled 2020 and 2021, but was a pro bowler the year prior. The last two seasons, Chark has played just 17 games, 4 of those coming in 2021. In those 17 games, Chark put up solid stats. Chark tallied 860 yards and seven touchdowns on 60 receptions. The Lions are hoping that they can get similar production as Chark has been getting first team reps in camp.
Reynolds was claimed during last season after being granted his release by the Tennessee Titans. Reynolds got to Detroit, having a connection with Goff from back when they played in Los Angeles. Jared Goff and Reynolds were teammates with the Rams for 4 seasons. Reynolds took advantage of a bigger role in Detroit and having his old friend back at quarterback, racking up 306 yards and two touchdowns on 19 receptions in seven games. Reynolds returning to the Lions came to nobody’s surprise. Reynolds signed a two-year deal worth up to $12 million. After a great start to training camp, Dan Campbell says he’s buying stock on Josh Reynolds, “I think he could have a big year.”
Cephus suffered a season ending injury in week 5 against the Minnesota Vikings. Cephus was off to a strong start to the season, tallying 204 yards and two touchdowns in the five games he played in. The former Wisconsin Badger is off to a great training camp looking to take a jump in his third season. Cephus leaped and made a spectacular one handed catch on the first day of camp and trotted into the endzone.
Williams, the Lions first round pick, will miss a handful of games to start the season. Williams has been engaged throughout the start of training camp, always having a football in his hands. The former Alabama receiver’s rehab has been going great, according to Campbell. Williams will be a huge add once he is activated from the PUP list.