A sixth-round pick in 2000, Tom Brady used his draft day slide to fuel arguably the greatest career in NFL history.
Twenty-one years later, rookie Detroit Lions receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown has found motivation in his own disappointing draft weekend.
“I’m never going to forget the 15 receivers that went before me in the draft,” St. Brown said on Day 3 of rookie minicamp Sunday. “That’s kind of the chip that I have on my shoulder coming in, everything that I do. Whenever I’m thinking about anything, that just comes back to my mind and it just motivates me to do more.”
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St. Brown actually was the 17th receiver taken in what was considered a particularly deep draft at receiver.
Five receivers went in Round 1, including top-10 picks Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith, and 10 more went on Day 2.
The Tennessee Titans made Louisville’s Dez Fitzpatrick the fourth pick of Round 4, and the Lions followed three picks later by taking St. Brown at No. 112 overall.
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Widely projected as a Day 2 pick after catching 178 passes in his three-year USC career, St. Brown said he knows the names of every receiver taken before him.
“(When the third round ended) I had a bittersweet feeling in my mouth and it just made me realize is I’ve got to go harder,” he said draft night. “I’m glad that the Detroit Lions drafted me but this is just the starting point for me. It’s the beginning of a chapter for me and I’m going to go ahead and work hard and give it everything I’ve got.”
St. Brown spent the early part of last week in southern California working out with Lions quarterback Jared Goff and some of his veteran teammates.
“(Goff) looked amazing,” he said. “It’s my first time actually throwing with him, so he looked awesome. He’s a smart guy, could grasp the offense really quick. Was moving guys around, so I’m excited.”
At practice Sunday, St. Brown lined up at both outside and slot receiver, where he caught the first pass of seven-on-seven drills.
Lions coach Dan Campbell said it’s too early to define St. Brown’s role for the fall, but he said the rookie “has not disappointed” in his first few days on the job.
“I’m excited to be here,” St. Brown said. “I’m excited to work and I’m ready to take someone’s job.”
‘Kick-ass’ home opener
The Lions have one of the NFL’s most difficult schedules based on last year’s win-loss records, but Campbell is fired up for at least one part of it.
“I think it’s exciting we get to open at home,” he said. “That’s kick ass. I think our fans are going to be going crazy, I think it’s going to be loud as hell and I think we’ll give them hell. But hey, it’s exciting. I’m fired up.”
The Lions open the 2021 season Sept. 12 against the San Francisco 49ers at Ford Field then play three of their next four on the road against division foes. They have three sets of back-to-back road games and close the season with dates against 2020 playoff teams in the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers.
“I get it, particularly early, there’s some opponents in there, they’re tough,” Campbell said. “They’re going to be tough. It’s no secret, San Fran’s not going to be some breeze. Neither is Baltimore. And then we’re going on the road for our division opponent, Green Bay. So, yeah, but it’s also pretty freaking exciting, too. You weather the storm early and all of a sudden you’re feeling pretty good. We’ll get tested early. I know we’re not ready for it right now, but we’ve got a long time between now and September.”
The Lions signed two tryout players after rookie camp, safety Alijah Holder and tight end Charlie Taumoepeau. Holder made seven tackles in eight games with the Denver Broncos last season, while Taumoepeau spent parts of the 2020 season with the Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts and 49ers. … Campbell said first-round pick Penei Sewell, who missed minicamp after testing positive for COVID-19, is expected in town early this week. “He’s been in the Zoom meetings, so schematically, he’s on it,” Campbell said. “He’ll be fine. He’ll adjust quickly. It’s not going to be any setback whatsoever.”