The Detroit Lions improved their wide receiver room by reportedly agreeing to a one-year contract with former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark. It represents a much-needed upgrade for a position group that was undermanned for the majority of the 2021 campaign. Chark joins the ascending Amon-Ra St. Brown in a new-look pass-catching department that should be more productive in 2022.
Chark should provide Detroit with a vertical threat option in the passing game. It’s worth mentioning that the Lions also re-signed receiver Josh Reynolds earlier this offseason in a shrewd move that bestows them with more depth going forward. Reynolds made seven regular-season appearances for the Lions down the stretch and surpassed 50 receiving yards in four of those contests while securing two touchdowns.
The trio of Chark, St. Brown, and Reynolds makes for an exciting and formidable pass-catching group, but more is required. Lions general manager and chief decision-maker Brad Holmes is unlikely to make another lucrative splash at receiver in free agency after handing out a sizable amount of money to Chark, but the Lions will almost certainly draft a receiver with the 32nd or 34th overall selection. We’ve identified three receivers the Lions should consider drafting in April.
JAHAN DOTSON, WR, PENN STATE
Dotson should represent a realistic and legitimate target with the second or third of Detroit’s three top-40 selections. Dotson possesses the speed and big-play ability necessary to reach the end zone on any given snap or touch of the football. Dotson is an excellent and crafty route-runner that consistently created separation throughout his time as a Nittany Lion partially due to a well-advanced and diverse release package. A sudden and explosive athlete, Dotson is an easy NFL projection that should experience immediate success at the pro level thanks to a diverse and well-rounded skill set.
Placing Dotson on the field alongside Chark would allow Detroit’s passing game to space opposing defenses out while placing a terrific amount of stress on the secondary. Dotson is an easy complement to Chark and St. Brown with a differing play style. Dotson’s ability on special teams could also quickly be utilized in Year 1. He averaged a healthy 14.6 yards per punt return at Penn State and should be allowed to return punts in the NFL. Whether it’s Jared Goff or a draft pick at quarterback for the Lions in 2022, Dotson would provide Detroit’s signal-caller with a viable option in the passing game.
TREYLON BURKS, WR, ARKANSAS
Once viewed as a prospect that carried the potential to become the first receiver selected in 2022, Arkansas’ Treylon Burks has seemingly fallen behind the likes of Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Jameson Williams, and Drake London in the race to secure that honor. Burks experienced a disappointing combine and his draft stock has allegedly taken a hit. A 33-inch vertical, 4.55 in the 40-yard dash, and 7.28 in the three-cone were concerning results that have given analysts and scouts pause regarding Burks’ pro projection.
Allowing the underwear Olympics to sour your opinion on Burks qualifies as an unjust exercise. The former Razorback is a versatile talent that can line up at X receiver, in the slot, and in the backfield in creative offensive packages. Burks is extremely difficult to tackle in the open field and consistently generates yards after the catch as most secondary would-be tacklers struggle to wrestle him to the ground without help.
Burks’ playstyle is incredibly physical and the Warren, Arkansas native plays up to every inch and pound of his 6-foot-2, 225-pound frame. Burks is a dangerous playmaker with the ball in his hands that also doubles as a contested-catch winner. A 1,000-plus yard receiver that averaged 16.1 yards or greater per catch in three consecutive campaigns, Burks would be an excellent fit in the Lions’ offense.
CHRISTIAN WATSON, WR, NORTH DAKOTA STATE
Few prospects have aced the pre-draft process in the manner that North Dakota State’s Christian Watson has. It began in Mobile way back in January when Watson experienced an excellent Senior Bowl. It was crucial for Watson to prove he belonged alongside prospects from bigger programs throughout the week-long event, and that’s exactly what he did.
Watson then proceeded to attach the largest of jetpacks to his pre-draft stock by blowing the lid off the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Watson electrified those in attendance by running the 40-yard dash in a blazing 4.36 seconds, which represents an especially eye-popping time for a receiver that clocked in at 6-foot-4 and 208 pounds. Watson’s explosion drills were equally as impressive, as a 38.5-inch vertical and 136-inch broad jump helped Watson round out one of the all-time great combine performances.
Watson now appears poised to get selected in the second round and the Lions qualify as a potential landing spot with the 34th overall selection. Some may view Chark’s signing as a deterrent to potentially drafting Watson, as both receivers possess somewhat similar vertical skill sets, but Chark’s one-year contract shouldn’t eliminate any option for the Lions as they continue to search for long-term answers at the position.