06 Aug

Kalif Raymond an under the radar addition to the Lions receiving corps

The offseason was not kind to the Lions receiving corps. After seeing their top three wide receivers, Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and Danny Amendola depart, it left General Manager Brad Holmes with his work cut out for him to fill that barren cupboard at wide receiver.

The Lions only have one receiver, Quintez Cephus, who saw snaps on the active roster last year. Victor Bolden and Tom Kennedy were on the practice squad, where Geronimo Allison opted out last year. So that was it for returning wide receivers. To say this was a daunting task for the Lions is putting it lightly.

Holmes’ most notable additions to round out the receiving corps were Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman. Each has had some moderate success in the NFL, with Williams being a former 1,000-yard receiver and Perriman a viable deep-threat option. They will be looked upon more than likely as the top two receivers for the Lions.

During the draft, the major talk was not if the Lions would draft a receiver is when they would take one. The first four picks came and went, but no receiver. It wasn’t until the fourth round where the Lions tagged Amon-Ra St. Brown to be their future slot receiver and get everybody off Holmes’ back.

From the outside looking in, you could probably see who the Lions will be leaning on when it comes to wide receivers. But there is one under-the-radar signing Holmes made that could not only provide a viable answer to the Lions receiver depth but be a versatile chess piece across the field.

Kalif Raymond came to the Lions this offseason after spending a year with the Tennessee Titans has one of their main return specialists with 483 combined return yards and 187 receiving yards. He has never been a staple point within the receiver corps with only 369 yards over four seasons, but with his legit 4.3 speed, he becomes a dangerous weapon in the return game with 1,549 return yards.

Raymond has been making noise so far in training camp with not just showing off his top-end speed but his crisp route running and versatility to line up all along the offensive front. Even though St. Brown is entrenched as the Lions starting slot receiver, Raymond shows that he is not just a one-trick pony in the slot but also line up outside and take the top cover. Of note, when Tyrell Williams left practice yesterday, it was Raymond who was brought in to fill that outside role.

Raymond has already shown to be an effective special teamer as a return man, and so far, he has been the first man up and looks to be taking advantage of it the opportunity. Special teams coach Dave Fipp is excited to have Raymond part of his unit.

“Really excited about Kalif. Obviously, brought him in here from Tennessee. We liked his film,” Fipp said. “Brad (Holmes) and those guys did a great job acquiring him. He’s been great since he’s got here. He’s obviously back there handling punts. I think him and Bolden and Kennedy and St. Brown and Amos a little bit — all those guys have been back there, all five of them. We really like them. I think Bolden and Raymond (are) really explosive players.”

Even during his time at Tennessee, he made strong appearances during camp, where he made coaches notice the potential as a viable option for the offense. He noticed that he will not always win deep considering his small stature and worked on his short and intermediate routes during last year’s offseason. He stayed in Adam Humphries’ hip pocket and learned anything he could from Humphries, who has made a career with those types of routes. So far from the camp reports, he has made major strides in his route-running ability giving him another strong attribute to work with.

The Lions had plenty of work to do to fill the receiving room, and even though it doesn’t strike others with excitement, it does have the potential of being a complementary part of the offense. Raymond will look to establish himself as a strong WR4 competing against Cephus and take over the main return spot for the special teams. Keep your eye on Raymond as training camp progresses because if he keeps this trend up, there should be no reason not to see him on the active roster and watch that speed in action.