4 Under-the-Radar Lions Wideouts

These four unheralded wideouts have a chance at cracking Detroit's 53-man roster.
Daurice Fountain
Daurice Fountain / Junfu Han, USA TODAY NETWORK
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The Detroit Lions will enter training camp with a variety of unheralded players looking to prove their worth. 

Among them is a group of wideouts that will need to have strong showings in training camp in order to crack Detroit’s season-opening, 53-man roster.

Of the group, undrafted free agent Isaiah Williams and Michigan Panthers product Kaden Davis have been the most frequently bandied about.

Williams, formerly of the University of Illinois, had a productive 2023 campaign with the Illini. He not only led the Big Ten in receptions with 82 (13th-most in the country and 15 more than any other player in the conference). But, he also amassed 1,055 receiving yards, ranking No. 2 in the conference (2024 No. 4 overall pick Marvin Harrison Jr. led the Big Ten with 1,211 yards).

Additionally, in five total seasons at Illinois, Williams recorded 214 receptions (the second-highest mark in school history), along with 2,304 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also served as a punt returner in his final two seasons with the Illini, returning 27 punts for 247 yards.

Meanwhile, Davis, just like Williams, stood out for his solid play during OTAs. Davis, who logged reps as a returner in spring camp, accumulated 83 receiving yards, 333 return yards and two touchdowns in five games with the Panthers during the 2023 UFL season. 

Additionally, in the NFL, he most recently suited up for the Arizona Cardinals. He served on the Cardinals’ practice squad for the duration of the ‘23 campaign.

Lions wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El was impressed with the play of both Williams and Davis over the last month. 

“I think with both of those guys, they’re smart and they understand the offense, and they can spit it back out to you,” Randle El said of Williams and Davis. “Now, Kaden’s been around a little bit more obviously. But, to be able to come in the offense and pick it up as quickly as he has, and then going out and applying on the field and being able to make those plays, is a big deal. I could say the same thing about Isaiah, in terms of some of the plays he’s made. He makes some moves, runs some routes and you can tell, ‘Okay, this guy’s got something.’ And you know it already from the college film, but for him to come out and apply it and do it in this setting and continue to move up, has been good.” 

Along with Williams and Davis, Randle El believes that Daurice Fountain and Tre'Quan Smith are equipped with intriguing intangibles.   

Fountain, a fifth-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in the 2018 NFL Draft, has just two receptions to his name in eight total games. He also hasn't played a down of football in a regular season game since 2021 when he was a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Yet, Randle El believes that the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Fountain possesses some untapped potential. 

“It’s that big body. You can put him in a category with Donovan (Peoples-Jones), too, just in terms of guys that have a bigger body that can run, do some big boy stuff in terms of the slants, the short ins and things of that nature,” Randle El said of Fountain. “He has the opportunity, the ability to be able to go up and catch the ball right off the defender’s head. He did that a couple times in camp, and missed a couple here. But, you can see it’s in there, and he can do it. So, those types of things, he needs to continue to do.” 

Of Fountain and Smith, Smith is the much more accomplished receiver. 

Smith, a third-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2018, first got to know Detroit head man Dan Campbell during his time in New Orleans. He suited up for five years with the Saints, with three of those seasons (2018-2020) overlapping with Campbell's tenure as assistant head coach/tight ends coach in New Orleans.

In 66 total games with the Saints, the Central Florida product amassed 131 receptions, 1,764 yards and 18 touchdowns. 

Smith's level of NFL experience is similar to that of fellow receivers Donovan Peoples-Jones and Kalif Raymond, two bonafide locks to make Detroit's 53-man roster out of camp. However, Smith's roster fate, unlike Peoples-Jones’ and Raymond's, is far from certain.

“Well, that experience you talk about, knowing the offense. That’s the other thing, too, we talk about these guys with experience. Donovan’s got experience, Tre’s got experience. Those are guys that we’re expecting as we go along, they need to step up, because those spots need to be filled and better sooner than later from that perspective,” Randle El expressed. “So again, we’ve got some work cut out for us in our room, just in terms of guys getting better and being in those spots and being ready to go. Certainly, again, that competition, that door’s open for these guys to be able to come in and get it done.”


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Vito Chirco

VITO CHIRCO

Vito has covered the NFL and the Detroit Lions for the past five years.  Has extensive reporting history of college athletics, the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Mercy Athletics.  Chirco's work include NFL columns, analyzing potential Detroit Lions prospects coming out of college, NFL draft coverage and analysis of events occurring in the NFL.  Extensive broadcasting experience including hosting a Detroit Tigers podcast and co-hosting a Detroit Lions NFL podcast since 2019.