Josh Reynolds: Rams and Titans reporters weigh in on what the Lions are getting in their new WR

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It took a few months longer than many expected, but the Detroit Lions now have wide receiver Josh Reynolds on the roster. The Lions claimed Reynolds off waivers from the Tennessee Titans.

Reynolds is more well-known for his first four seasons with the Los Angeles Rams. He was a fourth-round pick out of Texas A&M in the 2017 NFL draft and developed into a reliable receiving option for Jared Goff. Because Lions GM Brad Holmes was the Rams’ scouting director when they drafted Reynolds, ample speculation about Reynolds joining the WR-needy Lions sprung up almost immediately.

Here’s what Erik Schlitt wrote here at Lions Wire back before the onset of free agency last winter,

We at Lions Wire were big fans of Reynolds in the 2017 draft and had hoped the Lions would consider him. Instead, they drafted Kenny Golladay in the third round and Reynolds landed with the Rams in the fourth, 21 picks later.

Reynolds wins with size, timing, and vertical speed to stretch a defense. He plays in the slot roughly 25-percent of his snaps, and his ability to control his body at full speed helps him win in a variety of ways.

It didn’t work out in Tennessee, where Reynolds signed after overtures from the Lions. But now the 6-foot-3, 195-pound wideout gets a chance to prove himself in Detroit.

What are the Lions getting in Reynolds? I asked a few team beat reporters who have covered the 26-year-old in either Los Angeles or Tennessee for their thoughts on Reynolds.

First up is Turron Davenport, the Titans’ beat reporter for ESPN and one of the sharpest guys in the business.

The Lions are getting a smooth, versatile receiver that can play X,Z or on the slot. Reynolds is a capable deep threat but wasn’t used in that manner with the Rams. He hoped that opportunity would materialize for him with Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee but an Achilles and shoulder inury kept him from reaching his potential during training camp. Once Reynolds was healthy he found himself buried on the depth chart behind Marcus Johnson l, Chester Rogers and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine.

Next comes this from Jake Ellenbogen of Downtown Rams and The Game Day NFL,

The Lions are getting a tall and lanky receiver that has a chance to take over as the number one wideout in Detroit. The big reason is his connection with Jared Goff. He trusts him and while Reynolds isn’t the biggest name ever, he can certainly play. He filled in when Kupp, Cooks and Woods needed him to. He needs to improve the timing of his jumps in 50/50 ball situations but he can be used as a big slot or on the outside. I love the fit in Detroit with Goff and I think Reynolds can reinvent himself in the second half of this season. Familiarity is key and GM Brad Holmes was very high on Reynolds when the Rams drafted him.

Finally, Cameron DaSilva of Rams Wire offered up a fair evaluation of Reynolds and how he can help Detroit,

Reynolds isn’t the fastest receiver, but he’s a long strider who can stretch the field when given the chance. The biggest issue is he’s not physical at the catch point and doesn’t win enough in jump-ball situations for a player his size. He plays much smaller than his frame, which is admittedly frustrating because he has the combination of size and speed to be a starting receiver in the NFL.

When he was a starter with the Rams, he didn’t run deep routes very often but when he did, Jared Goff was inaccurate and didn’t always give him a chance to make a play. I still think he can succeed as an outside receiver, he just needs to play with better physicality and with stronger hands.

What DaSilva said resonates with the crash-course film review on Reynolds in his best Rams season. In 2020, Goff and Reynolds hooked up 52 times on 81 targets for 618 yards and two TDs. Reynolds lined up at all three WR spots almost equally, but he was better outside than in the slot. The relative weakness on contested catches was readily apparent, unfortunately. But he does have speed to separate after the initial break and he’s precise in his routes.

Expect to see Reynolds earn ample playing time quickly for the Lions, who sport one of the NFL’s most inefficient passing attacks through nine weeks.