When Matthew Stafford lines up behind center to survey the situation, he must like what he sees. From left to right, towering figures stand in flexed two-point stances wearing silver helmets with cartoon lions drawn on them, while squat defensive backs jockey for position on the other side of the line of scrimmage.
Yes, the Detroit Lions have some tall receivers. The first thought is always Calvin Johnson, whose combination of size and speed is something that the human race has never seen before. He stands at 6-foot-5’, and between his leaping ability, timing and ball skills, one couldn’t blame any defensive back in the league for wanting to drag out a stepladder when matched up with No. 81.
Brandon Pettigrew is tall too. A first round draft pick in 2009, Pettigrew is also listed at 6-foot-5 and casts another big shadow. The tight end hasn’t always lived up to the high expectations that the Lions had for him coming out of Oklahoma State, but he has made his share of plays. His best season was in 2011 when he hauled in 83 catches for 777 yards and five touchdowns.
In his third year out of Georgia, Kris Durham is another big target for Stafford. And the two should know each other well having roomed together in college. Durham has contributed a lot to the Lions’ offense in 2013, with perhaps no play bigger than his catch against the Dallas Cowboys on the Lions’ game-winning drive. Durham has used his 6-foot-6 frame to rack up 471 receiving yards and two touchdowns on the year.
Though none of these pass-catchers have trouble reaching the top shelf, Lions rookie tight end Joseph Fauria has them all beat. At 6-foot-7, all he does is catch touchdowns. He’s pulled the ball down in the end zone six times on the year, and considering he only has 11 total catches, that ratio is pretty good. Fauria is just another reason that opposing defensive backs should be worried about this unit’s height, especially in the red zone.