Lions' 2022 Roster Bubble: Wide Receivers – Sports Illustrated

Brad Holmes used the 2022 offseason to retool the Detroit Lions’ wide receivers corps.
After the team’s passing attack was lethargic for a large part of the 2021 season, quarterback Jared Goff found his stride and helped Detroit find a groove late in the year. 
Josh Reynolds, a midseason waiver wire pickup, and emerging rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown were two key figures in the passing attack finding its footing.
Both return, as St. Brown enters year two and Reynolds was re-signed. They both figure to be important pieces in what should be an even better offensive unit in 2022. 
They won’t be alone, however, as Holmes made a concerted effort to give Goff and new Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson plenty to work with at the wideout position.
DJ Chark, a Pro Bowler in 2019, signed a one-year deal to come to Detroit. The 6-foot-4 pass-catcher figures to be an instant starter on the outside and give Goff a legitimate downfield threat.
Meanwhile, Holmes attacked the draft by trading up to select Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams in the first round. Williams is still recovering from a torn ACL suffered in January, and may not be ready to go when the Lions begin regular season play.
Reynolds, St. Brown and Chark will likely make up Detroit’s starting unit when the season begins, while Quintez Cephus and Kalif Raymond will slot in as secondary contributors.
Cephus is coming off a broken collarbone that ended his season in Week 5, but has shown flashes of returning to form during offseason workouts. Raymond, meanwhile, is a do-it-all playmaker who will help out on special teams as a return man.
Assuming all five are locks to make the roster, with Williams fitting in if healthy, there are plenty of decisions to be made regarding the team's receivers that are on the bubble. 
If Detroit were to place Williams on the physically unable to perform list, which would sideline him for the first six weeks of the season, it would open another roster spot to be given to another wideout.
Roster bubble
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The player toeing the roster line closest is Trinity Benson, a second-year Lion who was acquired on cut day during the 2021 preseason. After very limited production in his first year, Benson had a good minicamp, and appears to be in the running to make the roster.
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Holmes has said that he viewed Benson as a developmental player when he made the trade to acquire him from the Denver Broncos. If Williams is unable to go right away, Benson may very well get his chance.
The East Central (Oklahoma) College product will need to carry his momentum into training camp. Expect him to get plenty of looks in the preseason, while Detroit head coach Dan Campbell and company assess his ability.
Another returner from last season’s roster is Tom Kennedy, who cracked the active roster for the first time in 2021. Despite achieving cult-hero status for his touchdown pass to Raymond in the season finale, the New Jersey native may find himself on the outside-looking-in due to the restock of talent at his position.
Rounding out Detroit’s training camp roster are a trio of undrafted free agents in Josh Johnson, Kalil Pimpleton and Corey Sutton.
Johnson had a quiet start to his career at Tulsa, before breaking out as a senior. Notching 1,114 receiving yards, he was a mismatch to opposing defenses, despite being just 5-foot-11.
Pimpleton is the most versatile of the UDFA group, having totaled 2,997 all-purpose yards in three seasons at Central Michigan. The mid-major game-breaker was used out wide, in the backfield, behind center and in the return game during his time with the Chippewas.
This versatility could be key to Pimpleton finding his way on to the roster. He’s undersized at 5-foot-9, but has legitimate speed that could cause problems for NFL defenses.
Sutton, meanwhile, is a 6-foot-3 vertical threat who plays physically. The Appalachian State product totaled 2,278 receiving yards in three active seasons with the Mountaineers.
With all the depth at receiver, it will be tough for the young players to crack the roster. However, the team has several options to help fill its practice squad, in case of emergency at the position. 

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Christopher Jones
Christopher Jones
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