During the early stages of training camp, WR Kevin Ogletree has been one of the major standouts for the Detroit Lions. He has been lining up with the first team on a consistent basis, a group that features the best receiver in the NFL today in Calvin Johnson, and Super Bowl champion free agent WR Golden Tate. His emergence, along with questions surrounding Ryan Broyles and Kris Durham makes Ogletree the leading candidate to claim the No. 3 receiver position.
Detroit was so confident in Ogletree this offseason, even with his minimal impact in 2013, that the team re-signed him on the first day of free agency, ahead of Tate. As a mid-season acquisition last year, Ogletree didn’t produce much, recording just 13 catches for 199 yards and one touchdown, but his past success with the Dallas Cowboys has proved that he can be a good player in the league and a great option as a No. 3 receiver. His best NFL season actually came as a No. 3 receiver in Dallas in 2012. Backing up Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, Ogletree recorded 32 receptions for 436 yards and four touchdowns.
As far as the other candidates are concerned, Broyles, a second-round pick in 2012, has not been able to stay healthy and hasn’t produced much, catching only 30 passes in two seasons. Durham has had problems catching the ball and also didn’t produce much in 2013, catching just 38 passes, despite being given a golden opportunity after Nate Burleson was out of the starting lineup for a majority of the season. Durham has been so bad for the Lions that Pro Football Focus (subscription required) actually gave him the worst grade of any offensive player in the past three seasons at minus 12.3.
After signing a lucrative deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to begin the 2013 season, Ogletree was released after just four weeks amidst the debacle that was Greg Schiano and Josh Freeman and signed with Detroit shortly afterwards. This season, Ogletree has a chance to thrive in a new offensive scheme under Joe Lombardi that emphasizes intermediate passes and actually features the slot receiver (something that former OC Scott Linehan ignored). If Ogletree can continue his impressive camp and other players start to falter, Ogletree will have a huge role once the 2014 season begins.