INDIANAPOLIS — It's no secret that the Detroit Lions need an upgrade at wide receiver. Since 2007, the Lions have had arguably the most productive wide receiver in the NFL in Calvin Johnson, but the production outside of Megatron has been slim to none.
In 2013, the top two in terms of receiving yardage for the Lions came in the form of running backs Joique Bell (547 yards) and Reggie Bush (506 yards). Undrafted free agent and college teammate of quarterback Matt Stafford at the University of Georgia, Kris Durham, registered 38 receptions for 490 yards and two touchdowns. Durham was the only wide receiver outside of Johnson to catch more than one touchdown pass last season.
The need became even more evident earlier in the week after the club released veteran wide receiver Nate Burleson, who was limited to just 39 receptions in 2013 after missing seven games due to a broken arm in a bizarre pizza box injury.
Johnson, who sees double and even triple teams by opposing teams, was still able to post 1,492 yards and 12 touchdowns. But when speaking to the media at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday, new Lions head coach Jim Caldwell talked about why it's imperative for the team to bolster their receiving corps to take some of the attention away from Johnson.
"I think it's something obviously that we have to really take a real strong look at, obviously, because of the fact that he's one that's going to draw a little extra attention in terms of double coverage like he's always done," Caldwell said. "And with that being the case, we have to find a way to make certain whoever's on the other side that may be getting singled in some situations can do some damage against the defenders.
"I think that's extremely important, so I think that's something that obviously we've taken a good hard look at and one way or another we're going to come up with a guy that's going to give us some balance in that area."
The Lions hold the No. 10 pick in the first-round of the 2014 NFL Draft and plenty of top names wide receivers should be on the board. Sammy Watkins (Clemson), Marqise Lee (USC) and Mike Evans (Texas A&M) all could be possibilities for the Lions with their first pick. Also, second-tier wideouts like Kelvin Benjamin (Florida State), Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU), Allen Robinson (Penn State) and Davante Adams (Fresno State) could provide a boost to the Lions in the second-round of the draft as they hold the 45th overall selection.
General manager Martin Mayhew created more cap space for the club this past week with the release of safety Louis Delmas and the aforementioned Burleson and the Lions could make a run at Denver Broncos unrestricted free agency wide receiver Eric Decker, who is one of the top wideouts on the market.
NFL free agency officially begins on March 11 and that's when Caldwell's main goal of winning a Super Bowl in Detroit will begin.
"Our focus and our goal and our aim is going to be to win. That's the key. Win and win championships."