Detroit Lions: Does D.J. Chark change strategy at 32 in 2022 NFL Draft?

Detroit Lions sign DJ Chark Jr. #17 (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions sign DJ Chark Jr. #17 (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Does D.J. Chark change Detroit Lions strategy at 32 in 2022 NFL Draft?

The Detroit Lions receiving corps struggled during the 2021 season. The Lions were one of just four teams to average less than 10 yards a reception and big plays were nearly non-existent, being tied for the fewest catches of 40+ yards in the league.

There were flashes at times from players in the fold, like Amon-Ra St. Brown and Josh Reynolds, but it was obvious that the Lions just simply needed more. To make matters worse, both Kalif Raymond and KhaDarel Hodge hit free agency, weakening an already slim position group.

With three picks in the first 34 picks of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Lions have the draft capital to land a wide receiver in a very deep wide out class. However, Detroit has plenty of other needs across the roster and while a top wide receiver would clearly help the problems of the franchise, there’s other areas the team can turn to with those three selections.

The most recent signing for the Detroit Lions could help bring clarity to the situation. According to Adam Schefter, the Lions struck a deal with former second round pick D.J. Chark. It’s only a one-year deal, but Chark is a massive upgrade over any players the Lions currently have on the roster or had last year.

Chark played in just four games last season, which drastically hurt his stock, which makes sense as to why he was not only interested in the Lions, but signed a one-year deal. The deal will allow Chark to bring back his stock on the market over the next season and Detroit will be the beneficiary.

The opportunity for Chark is to become the top receiver on a team that needs pass catchers. A top option and weapon, Chark should have no problem rising back to form in Detroit if he can stay healthy. Meanwhile, Detroit gets a wide receiver that just two years ago made the Pro Bowl with over 1,000 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.

Does the strategy change for the Detroit Lions?

As for the 2022 NFL Draft, the signing gives the Detroit Lions more flexibility. The one-year deal doesn’t solve the long-term problem, but it does buy the Lions time to invest in other areas of the roster first. The combination of Chark, Reynolds and St. Brown is enough to get through this season if need be and allow them to reevaluate next year when Chark is the only one missing from the group.

Now, this doesn’t mean that the Detroit Lions should ignore the wide receiver position entirely. This is still a big need for the franchise moving forward, but it does open their options a bit more. A top receiver isn’t a need this offseason, meaning a mid-to-late round receiver with high upside could now be the preferred route for the position.

With wide receiver no longer as big of a need with the 32nd pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, one option that could open up is quarterback. Taking a quarterback at the end of the first round brings with it a fifth year option. That is incredibly value for young quarterbacks and could be a route the Lions explore a bit more now.

The 2022 NFL Draft doesn’t have a sure-fire quarterback, but there are a lot of options with potential. If the Lions fall in love with one of those players, this could be a spot they look to pull the trigger. Whether it be Sam Howell, Desmond Ridder, Carson Strong or someone else, the Lions now have a bit more wiggle room to find a quarterback without causing a setback at another position.

The only remaining question will have to wait until draft night for an answer. Do any of them fall? Detroit shouldn’t feel pressure to move up from 32 at this point to find a quarterback. At least not this year. The quarterback craze is becoming a yearly tradition and there are sure to be teams who over pay or jump the gun on unproven quarterbacks in this class.

As for the Detroit Lions, their best bet at 32 is to stay put and let the draft come to them. With so many needs there isn’t a reason to reach for anything in this class. They can instead opt for the best player available with each pick. What D.J. Chark does is move one of the needs down the list to let the Lions look elsewhere first.