Grading the Lions’ selection of WR Amon-Ra St. Brown

Pride of Detroit

The biggest, most consistent complaint from fans and analysts regarding the Detroit Lions’ Day 2 selections was their lack of a pass catcher. Well, ARE YOU HAPPY NOW???

The Lions wasted no time on Day 3 to fill that need by taking USC receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown with the 112th-overall selection of the 2021 NFL Draft. Let’s break down the pick.

Talent

A three-year starter at USC, St. Brown had himself a very productive career, especially in his final two seasons. Take a look at his production:

2018 (12 games, 5 starts): 60 catches, 750 yards, 3 TDs
2019 (13 games, 12 starts): 77 catches, 1,042 yards, 6 TDs
2020 (6 games, 6 starts): 41 catches, 478 yards, 7 TDs

St. Brown did not miss a single game at USC, something he credits his bodybuilding background and the care he takes of his own body.

When it comes to his skillset, he won’t beat you with speed or agility—as his athletic numbers there are merely average—but he has been one of the better receivers at contested catches over the past few years.

What’s unique about St. Brown is that he gives the Lions versatility at the receiver position. Though he’s likely headed for the slot in Detroit, he has plenty of experience on the outside, as well. Here are his positional splits, per PFF’s 2021 Draft Guide:

2018: 116 slot snaps, 293 wide snaps
2019: 844 slot, 76 wide
2020: 263 slot, 197 wide

Overall, St. Brown gives you strong hands, good enough athleticism, and versatility.

Talent grade: B

Value

This was another great value pick for the Lions. Here’s where St. Brown ranked on several big boards:

Dane Brugler: 67 overall
PFF: 3rd round grade
Lance Zierlein: 2nd-3rd round grade
Daniel Jeremiah: 112 overall

Value grade: A

Need

I think it’s fair to say the Lions had a considerable need at wide receiver, and especially in the slot, where Kalif Raymond was lined up to start prior to the pick. St. Brown actually has a legitimate shot at playing immediately, which is great value for a Day 3 pick.

Need grade: A

Overall

Hard to argue with this pick at all. He fills a need. The value was good. And he’s a high-character guy who doesn’t have any injury history in college. If you want to nitpick, North Texas receiver Jaelon Darden was on the board, as were speedsters Shi Smith and Cade Johnson, but I like that the Lions got a different flavor of receiver here.

Overall grade: B+

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