Daily Focus: What can Anquan Boldin bring to the Lions?

Veteran WR can give Detroit a productive option out of the slot. Plus, more trouble for the Dallas defensive line.

| 3 months ago
(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Daily Focus: What can Anquan Boldin bring to the Lions?

Editor’s note: Every day in “Daily Focus,” PFF analysts take the latest NFL news and translate what it really means for each team involved.

What Anquan Boldin signing means for the Lions: Anquan Boldin will turn 36 years old during the 2016 season, and coupled with the fact that his production has declined in recent years, you can see why it took this long for him to come off the market, with his signing a contract with the Lions on Wednesday. That being said, however, Boldin has never been a guy who won with his speed, so losing a step doesn’t necessarily hurt him as much as it would a guy like DeSean Jackson. The quarterback position has also completely crumbled in recent years in San Francisco, and that’s certainly contributed to the drop in production.

Boldin will likely spend a good portion of the time in the slot for Detroit. He might not be what immediately comes to mind when you think of a slot receiver, but Boldin spent 56 percent of his snaps there a year ago. That was a higher percentage than both current Detroit receivers Golden Tate (54.5 percent) and Marvin Jones (16.0 percent). Boldin still had a positive grade in 2015, and his 1.38 yards per route from the slot was 30th out of 53 qualifying receivers. Lions fans shouldn’t expect a huge impact out of Boldin, but he could help a receiving corps trying to replace the team’s best player in Calvin Johnson.

Randy Gregory’s suspension leaves Dallas D-line in tough shape: Many draft evaluators, including us here at PFF, had Randy Gregory ranked as a first-round talent when he was coming out of Nebraska during the 2015 NFL draft, but it took 60 picks before he came off the board to the Cowboys due to off-field concerns related to drug use. Even though he went sackless in 2015 after dealing with some injuries, the rookie still posted a positive pass-rush grade and had the third-most hits on the Dallas defensive line, with six. None of that matters, however, if he can’t stay on the field.

Outside of DeMarcus Lawrence – who will miss the first four games himself due to suspension – Dallas has a no-name group on the edge of its defensive line. Second-year player David Irving had a positive pass-rushing grade last season on 2015 snaps, but he’s the only defensive end to ever have a positive pass-rushing grade on the roster.

Should another team sign Devin Hester? Devin Hester was released by the Falcons Tuesday. He never quite returned to form after a big toe injury last season, and he was limited to only 17 total returns. He’s still only one year removed from being our highest-graded returner in the league, but at 33 years old, teams will likely have to work him out first to see what he has left.

Here’s hoping it’s still enough for him to get another chance, because in his prime there was no more exciting returner in the league. From 2007-2014 Hester finished outside the top 10 returners only three times, and usually only because of his penchant for muffs. His 14 punt-return touchdowns are an NFL record (by a margin of four) and Bears fans will always have the Super Bowl memory of his opening kickoff return touchdown versus the Colts.

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • crosseyedlemon

    Devin Hester provided us Bear fans with so many great moments and I think we all feel he deserves a place in Canton. The NFL is trying to gradually phase out special teams play from the sport but it really makes little sense when game breakers like Devin provide such special thrills for the fans.

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