The Detroit Lions have a pass catching group capable of doing some big damage on the field, and now the group can count themselves as one of the best groups in the league.
Recently, Pro Football Focus put together a list of the top wideout groups in the NFL 1-32. Detroit’s group, which is led by Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, ended up placing No. 6 on the list, safely within the top 10 in the league.
Writer Ben Linsey likes what he sees from the group, as he wrote in the piece:
“The duo of Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. may be underrated around the league, but both guys can win in a number of ways, and they excel in contested-catch situations. Golladay ranks fifth in contested catches since 2017 (49) while Jones ranks eighth (42), and both have top-10 contested-catch rates among qualifiers. Danny Amendola remains a solid option in the slot at 34 years old after earning a 71.5 overall grade in 2019, and there’s reason to believe T.J. Hockenson will take a step forward as a receiver in his second season given how effective he was at Iowa. The addition of the best receiving running back in the class — D’Andre Swift — only bolsters the group.”
The Lions have players not only at wideout but other spots ready and willing to jump into the mix and help. That’s the mark of a solid team that has some excellent depth, and is a major reason the Lions might have one of the best groups in the entire league.
PFF Cites Lions Wideouts Have Great Hands
Detroit’s duo of Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay quietly put up solid seasons in 2019 in terms of production, and interestingly enough, they were also near the top of the league with regards to contested catch rate. Both are top 10 players in the league with regards to the stat according to Pro Football Focus.
But….the #Lions are the only team with a pair of WRs in the Top 10
— PFF DET Lions (@PFF_Lions) May 6, 2020
Golladay (58%) and Jones (56%) both showed an innate ability to come down with passes in front of their competition, which provides Matthew Stafford a major weapons to rely on when he looks down the field. It’s safe to say this stat could matter the most for 2020, even when yards and touchdowns are considered. It shows how productive a wideout is able to be.
With these stats in mind, the Lions are set to have a solid season on the field, and might have a better pass catching group than many other than PFF give them credit for.
Marvin Jones Dominant for Lions in 2019
Seeing Jones exit with injury late in the 2019 season was tough. Jones was fantastic this past season for the Lions, and opposite Kenny Golladay, has been one of the top wideouts in the entire game. Last season, he’s put up 779 yards and 9 touchdowns, which are solid numbers for Detroit. More than that, he has given the Lions a formidable 1-2 punch with Golladay and has been very dependable this season.
Jones had to prove he could come back off last season’s knee injury which cost him the end of the 2018 season, and he was able to do that with a massive season thus far in 2019. It’s safe to say Jones will continue to put in the good work for the Lions and as a result, should be earning himself love.
It’s unfortunate to say the least that he would get hurt once again, late in a season, but moving forward the Lions will be looking for Jones to be a strong option for them in 2020. That should be able to be the case.
Kenny Golladay’s 2019 Stats
From nearly the start of the season until the finish, Golladay had an excellent year catching the ball. So far, he’s put up 1,190 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s had some huge games last season, and four times Golladay has gone well over 100 yards in a game catching the ball for the Lions. His ball skills are a big reason why.
In total, Golladay has enjoyed arguably the best start to a career of any wideout in his 2017 draft class not named JuJu Smith-Schuster. With 2,730 yards and 19 touchdowns thus far in his career coming into the 2020 season on the field, Golladay looks like an obvious top dog in Detroit for the foreseeable future with Matthew Stafford tossing him the rock. That’s good news for the Lions, who have long pondered how to find production at the wideout position minus Calvin Johnson. Not an issue anymore with Golladay taking over.
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Lions Rookie Quintez Cephus Boasts Strong Catch Rate
In the aftermath of his selection, folks pointed to the fact that Cephus struggled with his 40 yard dash, running a 4.7 at the NFL Combine. It’s important to look below the stats and see some other important facts about Cephus’ game, however. Interestingly enough, what Cephus might lack in straight line speed, he more than makes up for with hands.
Cephus has been credited as being a solid route runner. Additionally, he is a guy who snags nearly every pass thrown his way as a player with one of the best catch rates in the entire class as Pro Football Focus pointed out.
Quintez Cephus' contested catch rate of 61.5% over the past two seasons ranks better than EVERY WR drafted before him.
— Brett Whitefield (@PFF_Brett) April 28, 2020
While contested catch rate certainly isn't the #1 trait/skill you want to hang your hat on for a WR, Cephus is absurdly good with them and the physicality he puts on display to win those reps is a microcosm of the rest of his game. Dude is a heck of a competitor.
— Brett Whitefield (@PFF_Brett) April 28, 2020
To this end, Cephus could fit in seamlessly in Detroit’s offense given the group he is joining and their strength snagging the football as well.
Speed is merely only one aspect that’s important for a wideout and what Cephus might lack in that aspect he makes up with hands. He brings down tough catches and that’s an aspect which should suit him well in the NFL and perhaps even make his adjustment to the league a bit smoother.
With Jones, Golladay and Cephus, the Lions suddenly have three players who can pull passes down in traffic. That should make Stafford happy as he thinks about his offense in 2020.
A rookie like this should give the Lions the makings of a solid group this season, and that’s just what the experts see playing out.