The Detroit Lions went into last week’s 2021 NFL Draft looking to rebuild their roster. And no position suffered more losses than wide receiver. That after several veterans like Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., and Jamal Agnew were lost to free agency.
And while new Lions general manager Brad Holmes brought in his own free agent wideouts like Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, Kalif Raymond, and Damion Ratley, Detroit’s receiver corps was still viewed as the team’s biggest need heading into the annual collegiate selection event last Thursday.
Yet, the new brass in Motown opted to address the trenches with their first three selections in the draft, adding to both their offensive and defensive lines only over the first two days of the event. It wasn’t until day three of the draft that the Lions turned their attention to their need at wide receiver. But their choice is getting some solid praise despite his late-round acquisition.
Here’s what Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz wrote for USA Today about the Lions’ fourth-round selection, USC wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, after choosing him as one of his 17 biggest instant-impact rookies from the 2021 NFL Draft.
“Detroit have the most dire outlook at receiver of any NFL team, with castoffs Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams leading the way. Even in a run-heavy offense, Jared Goff is going to need some help. St. Brown is the kind of savvy slot target who might remind Goff of Cooper Kupp and become a fast favorite of the quarterback.”
At 5-foot-11 and 197-pounds, St. Brown had a breakout season for the Trojans as a sophomore in 2019, racking up 77 receptions for 1,042 yards and six touchdowns in 13 contests. In only six games last year, he posted 41 catches for 478 yards and seven scores.
According to NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein, St. Brown is a polished route runner who makes up for his lack of speed with above-average tracking talent and body control. He ran a 4.51 forty-yard dash at his pro day.
The Lions are desperate for wide receiver talent. And based on the current roster, St. Brown could come in and have a significant role as a rookie lining up in the slot in new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn’s offense.
As the former head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers, Lynn had great success lining up four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Keenan Allen out of the slot. According to playerprofiler.com, more than 50% of Allen’s offensive snaps came out of the slot last year. He recorded 100 receptions for 992 yards and eight touchdowns in 2020.