As time passed during free agency, it felt like like there was a chance that D.J. Chark was going to resign with the Detroit Lions. Unfortunately, he ended up signing a one-year contract with the Carolina Panthers.
That leaves some uncertainty for the Lions at wide receiver. While they have a very good receiver in Amon-Ra St.Brown, there’s still some questions behind him on the depth chart. Josh Reynolds is a good enough WR3 in the NFL but we don’t really know what Jameson Williams is going to be yet. He could be great or he could not be but at this point, it’s hard to say.
That said, there could be a sneaky need for the Lions at wide receiver in the 2023 NFL Draft. Let’s take a look at one receiver for each day of the 2023 NFL Draft that could interest the Detroit Lions.
Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
There’s much to be desired when it comes to the skill set of Quentin Johnston from TCU. He’s a bigger receiver that could translate to being a true ‘X’ receiver in the NFL. That might surprise some as Johnston didn’t always play like one at TCU.
On tape, there were times that Johnston showed his ability to run vertically down the field. In the process, there were times he would track the ball perfectly and make some spectacular catches. He does struggle with physicality from the opposition when he’s running his routes.
However, there’s a lot to like with the explosiveness and after the catch ability that Johnston has. Oddly enough, his 6’2″ and 208 pound frame is an 81.3% match to D.J. Chark, per Mockdraftable. During the 2018 NFL Draft, Chark checked into the Combine 6’2″ and 199 pounds while also posting a 40″ vertical.
While likely to be a first round pick, there’s a chance that the Lions could consider drafting Johnston with the 18th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. They could very well turn to him to be a replacement for Chark and more due to his more rounded skill set.
Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee
On day two of the 2023 NFL Draft, there’s going to be a very intriguing receiver being heavily talked about for just about every team. That player is Cedric Tillman from Tennessee. The preferred Volunteer receiver on my board and potentially the best true ‘X’ receiver in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Tillman is 6’3″ and 213 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds. While he doesn’t have blazing speed, that time is still good for a player of that size. But he doesn’t need speed to win.
He uses his frame consistently to box out defenders in jump ball situations and it allows him to have a bigger catch radius than most receivers. Meanwhile, he’s got the overall strength to withstand any type of contact from the opposition.
During 2022, he battled through an ankle injury but if fully healthy, he can certainly become the Lions next ‘X’ receiver next season. With 3 picks on day two of the 2023 NFL Draft, Lions fans should keep close tabs on Cedric Tillman from Tennessee.
Bryce Ford-Wheaton, WR, West Virginia
If the Lions pass on a wide receiver on the first and second day of the 2023 NFL Draft, you would have to imagine that they would look for one on day three. While the wide receiver position runs deep and the Lions could look for a specific type of receiver, I’d have to think this next one would provide plenty of intrigue.
At the Scouting Combine, Bryce Ford-Wheaton did wonders for his draft stock. He checked in at 6’4″ and 221 pounds while posting a 41″ vertical and running the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds. Showcasing that type of speed and explosiveness should certainly shoot him up draft boards.
On the field, Ford-Wheaton isn’t a great separator but makes some great adjustments to the football. His frame allows him to win in contested catch situations and he’s got the ability to consistently run vertically down the field. During his career at West Virginia, he finished with 143 receptions for 1867 yards and 15 touchdowns.
With the Lions lacking a bigger receiver for contested catches or back shoulder throws, there could be plenty of intrigue with this prospect. Adding depth with the potential of starting is what the Lions have done well on day three of the draft. They could do that by selecting Bryce Ford-Wheaton out of West Virginia.
Story originally appeared on Lions Wire