After watching DeAndre Hopkins, Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson get taken just before their second-round pick, the Detroit Lions turned away from wide receivers and started building up other areas. That is, until the sixth round, when the Lions tagged Virginia Tech's Corey Fuller.
The Lions have seemingly been drafting receivers every year for the past decade, so it seems odd that they still had a need at the position, which they did. However, injuries and off-the-field concerns have stripped the Lions of their weapons, making Fuller a necessary pickup.
So where and how will Fuller fit in? Read on to find out.
Fuller's role is going to depend on outside factors almost as much as his own effort and production.
Nate Burleson is supposedly back to full health, meaning he is the presumed No. 2 receiver. Yet, he's another year older (31) and has an extensive injury history—and so does Ryan Broyles. He's currently fighting his way back from his second major knee injury (one on each knee) in two years.
If one or both players suffer any more ailments, Fuller could find himself pressed into duty before he's fully ready. Virginia Tech didn't do much passing, so Fuller will need some time to get up to speed on the intricacies of a professional passing offense.
And that's OK, because Fuller's job from the beginning will be stretching the field to keep a safety from focusing solely on Calvin Johnson. Here's betting he can handle that job immediately as he's big, fast and excellent at tracking the deep ball.
The most likely scenario for Fuller's first year will be fighting with Broyles and Mike Thomas for the No. 3 and 4 wide receiver positions or battling with tight end Tony Scheffler to be the fifth receiver in five-wide sets.
Again, Fuller will have to win some camp competitions to have anything more than a minimal impact during his rookie season. The other receivers ahead of him are proven to some degree and have been in the offense for at least a year already.
But not many teams throw the ball as much as the Lions. There will be a couple opportunities for Fuller to line up with three or four other receivers and head straight down the field. Knowing Matthew Stafford's love of the deep pass, he should find one or two long throws unfurled his way.
Plus, Fuller does have a different skill set than Broyles and Thomas, considering he's four to six inches taller than them, respectively. Thus, Fuller will have a legitimate, but limited, impact.
Stat Predictions: 21 receptions, 390 yards, 2 touchdowns
And How Does Punter Sam Martin Fit In?
Teams do not carry more than two kicking specialists on their roster. It's not prudent. So the drafting of Sam Martin in the fifth round means he will be fighting for the punting and kickoff gigs immediately and will probably be given a slight edge.
I'm not insinuating that the Lions will keep him if he isn't the better player, just that they won't give up on him right away. And they shouldn't. He can crank it on kickoff (45 touchbacks last year) and averaged 45.9 yards per punt, according to Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com.
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