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Where do the Lions offensive “triplets” rank in the NFL? According to the analysts at CBS Sports, not very high.
The CBS rankings of the top QB-RB-receiver of each NFL team plots the Lions at No. 24 overall. Detroit lands in the “Not awful but not great” tier of teams. Other denizens of that unsavory turf include the Giants, Steelers, Panthers, Jaguars and more. The grouping of QB Jared Goff, RB D’Andre Swift and TE T.J. Hockenson for the Lions.
Here’s the explanation for why the Lions rank near the bottom,
The best thing you can say about Goff is that he won’t kill your offense. Most of the time. He can keep the trains running on time if everything around him is working perfectly. Given a strong offensive line in Detroit, he likely won’t crater the Lions offense. But he won’t lift it above where the talent level dictates it should be, either.
Swift is electric catching passes out of the backfield, and could do more in the run game if allowed to pull more of the backfield away from Jamaal Williams. Hockenson has yet to have the true breakout season many have been predicting, but he’s probably a top-10 pass-catching tight end at the moment.
However, the ranking probably deserves something of an asterisk. The rankings are based on the presumptive top pass catcher for each team. In Detroit’s case, they chose Hockenson–coming off an injury-shortened season, no less.
It was clear by the end of the season that rookie WR Amon-Ra St. Brown was the top target for QB Jared Goff. Rookie first-rounder Jameson Williams projects to be more productive and dynamic than Hockenson too, despite coming off a knee injury that might abbreviate his debut season.
Also, the Lions don’t really run an offense that highlights one particular receiver or runner. The depth of talent at both RB and WR (with Hockenson at TE) is better than many teams ranked above Detroit. Expand the rankings out to quintuplets and Detroit probably fares much better, though Goff at QB is a definite limitation to the ceiling.