Detroit Lions 2020 NFL Combine preview: Wide receivers

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

This is the third installment of a multi-part series previewing the NFL Scouting Combine. The event will be broadcast over four days on the NFL Network, Thursday, Feb. 27 through Sunday, March 1. Today, we'll look at the wide receivers. 

Penn State wide receiver KJ Hamler, a former star at Orchard Lake St. Mary's, could be an option as the Lions could be looking to fill their slot receiver position.

Lions pre-free agency needs

With 34-year-old Danny Amendola set to dip his toes back into free agency, the Lions have an immediate need for a slot receiver, but there's plenty of reason to look at outside options as well, given Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay are both entering the final years of their contracts. 

Beyond that dynamic starting duo, Detroit lacks meaningful depth at the position. Marvin Hall flashed serious potential as a deep threat, but that doesn't alter the fact he caught just seven passes last year and has 19 career receptions in 33 games. 

Metrics to monitor

► 40-yard dash, vertical jump and broad jump

Speed, quickness and leaping ability are all key at the receiver position. Beyond the 40-yard time, the 10-yard split is indicative of how quickly a prospect can accelerate. And the ability to out-jump a defensive back and high-point a football is self-explanatory. 

Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy has drawn comparisons to NFL star Odell Beckham Jr.

Top prospects

► Jerry Jeudy, Alabama

An elite, well-rounded receiving prospect with extensive experience working in the slot, Jeudy has drawn comparisons to Odell Beckham Jr.. Deep speed, the ability to make a man miss in space and great hands make Jeudy as close as you can get to a can't-miss option. 

► CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma

The only threat to Jeudy not being the first receiver off the board, Lamb's ability to track and attack the ball are what sets him apart from most receivers in this class. He flashed good speed in the open field for the Sooners, and it will be interesting to see how it translates on the track at the combine. 

► Henry Ruggs III, Alabama

A contender to run the fastest 40 this year, Ruggs consistently blew the doors off opposing defenses with his vertical route running, averaging 17.5 yards per catch during his college career. If he manages to run under 4.3, like some of his former teammates are predicting, he'll lock himself into the middle of the first round. 

► Laviska Shenault, Colorado

A uniquely versatile talent with a thick, 220-pound frame. Shenault lined up in the backfield, both as a blocker and occasional ball carrier, as well as spending time in the slot and outside. Difficult to bring down because of his combination of size and speed, he did a significant amount of his damage after the catch. 

Sleepers to watch

► K.J. Hill, WR, Ohio State

Hill doesn't figure to post elite numbers at the combine, but the Buckeyes slot receiver showed what he can do while being coached by the Lions staff at the Senior Bowl, vacuuming in any throw his direction. The team could do far worse than using a mid-round pick here to replace Amendola. 

KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State

A punctuation-less KJ, the former Orchard Lake St. Mary's star could be another slot option for the Lions. He should run in the mid-4.4s at the combine, but he's better defined by his short-area quickness than his long speed. He's shown an ability to get free deep, but his best trait is juking past tacklers in the open field, which is why he's also an excellent return man. 


► Offensive line

► Defensive backs

Twitter: @justin_rogers