Lions Could Land Explosive Receiver in ‘Surprise’ Move: Analyst

pittsburgh steelers ricky pearsall

Getty The Pittsburgh Steelers hosted a pre-draft visit with Florida receiver Ricky Pearsall

The Detroit Lions lost their No. 2 receiver when Josh Reynolds left in free agency to join the Denver Broncos, but could use their first-round pick to replenish the wide receiver room.

Analyst Lauren Gray of Pro Football Focus named the Lions as one of the most likely teams to pull off a “surprise” move and draft Florida wide receiver Ricky Pearsall in the first round. Though Pearsall is rated as a second-day draft pick, Gray noted that the Lions might jump at the opportunity to add depth beyond top receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and take him with the No. 29 overall pick.

Ricky Pearsall Praised as Reliable, ‘Explosive’

Gray predicted that several teams could be willing to take a flyer on Pearsall in the first round, including the Buffalo Bills who pick just ahead of the Lions at No. 28 overall. Pearsall is coming off a season where he racked up 963 total yards, gaining 26 first downs from the slot, Gray noted.

“Praised for his quickness, route-running ability and reliable hands, Pearsall is considered to be one of the best slot receivers in the draft,” Gray wrote. “During his time at Florida, he recorded 49 explosive gains and the fourth-best drop rate (2.8%) among draft-eligible Power Five receivers.”

Gray added that the Lions still have plenty of weapons behind St. Brown, even after the departure of Reynolds. Rookie tight end Sam LaPorta added 1,065 receiving yards while second-year speedster Jameson Williams had 433 yards.

Pearsall’s draft stock is rising after a strong performance at the Senior Bowl, where noted he was “arguably the top offensive performer in attendance.”

Pearsall’s buzz only grew bigger after he showed out at the NFL Combine, the report added.

“He went to the NFL Combine and backed his on-field performance at the Senior Bowl with some eye-popping numbers at the combine. Persall’s 4.41 forty time was about average with 20 receivers breaking the coveted 4.40 mark, but his agility numbers were top of the charts,” the report noted.

“His 42-inch vertical jump was good for fifth at the event regardless of position. He posted a 6.64 3-cone, good for second overall.”

Lions Could Look to Trade Instead

The Lions could find another way to turn their first-round pick into a proven wide receiver. After ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on March 11 that receiver Tee Higgins had requested a trade from the Cincinnati Bengals, The Ringer’s Benjamin Solak suggested that the Lions could make a run at him and offer their first-round pick.

“Lions should be on the phone with 29 overall in a heartbeat,” Solak wrote.

There could be other targets in the draft as well. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. predicted the Lions could take Texas wide receiver Adonai Mitchell with the No. 29 overall pick.

Kiper noted that the Lions have done good work addressing their roster this offseason and don’t have many holes to fill, so finding another vertical receiver opposite Williams would be a good choice.

“At 6-foot-2, [Mitchell] ran a 4.34-second 40 at the combine, showing off impressive physical tools,” Kiper wrote. “He had 11 touchdowns last season. You might consider this a luxury pick, but this roster is so talented that the Lions can afford to take Mitchell.”

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