If there was one position the Detroit Lions needed to address heading into the NFL Draft, it was wide receiver. After losing Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and Danny Amendola, the Lions were down to slim pickings at the position. So needless to say, it was it bit off-putting to see the Lions not address receiver in the first three rounds of the draft.
Finally, the Lions made their move and got everyone off Brad Holmes’ ass when they took USC receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown in the fourth round.
At first glance, St. Brown looks like a good addition. He put up good numbers at USC and even had a great four-touchdown game against Washington State. It sure didn’t hurt Lions’ fans feelings to see him catching passes from a jugs machine in his garage on draft day either.
But since the Pac-12 doesn’t get a lot of love on our side of the country, not many really know a whole lot about St. Brown. I mean, we do know that his father looks less like a human and more like a man that was spawned naked in an alleyway before going into a bar and telling a guy he needed their clothes and their bike.
We wanted to get our readers more than just the basic information on St. Brown, so we reached out to our pal Ryan Kartje from the L.A. Times to get more information. Here’s what he had to say:
1. What are your overall thoughts on St. Brown’s time at USC?
St. Brown arrived in 2018 as a top-10 prospect and the most touted receiver recruit at USC since Robert Woods, and like Woods, his tenure as a Trojan is probably best defined by his consistency in delivering on that promise.
In his three seasons, he never led USC in receiving yards. But he was perhaps the most consistent part of its receiving corps—even as a freshman when he led USC in receptions.
In thinking about St. Brown’s tenure, I’m reminded of a road game at Colorado, when USC had almost completely run out of running backs. So St. Brown opened the game in the backfield. He took a handoff, bounced off a defender, made one cut upfield, and sprinted 37 yards for a score. He was the type of player USC relied on to make a play in a dire situation.
It was no secret after last season that St. Brown was planning to leave for the NFL, and he nearly opted out of 2020, if the Pac-12 season had been delayed any longer. When he did play, he was overshadowed somewhat by Drake London. But St. Brown was still as solid as ever. His four-touchdown performance against Washington State was especially jaw-dropping.
St. Brown was rarely ever the player who would stun you with incredible feats of athleticism. But he was consistently, relentlessly solid. He leaves USC as unquestionably one of its top receivers of the past decade.
2. What are his strengths?
He’s polished and steady as they come. There’s a reason why he stepped into a leading role immediately as a freshman. He’s a smooth, fluid athlete with good balance and control. He’s a cunning, slippery route router, and he knows how to make plays with the ball in his hand. Even if that means running through a larger defender.
At USC, he was asked to do a little bit of everything. He played in the slot, on the outside, in the backfield. It’s a testament to his football IQ that those transitions always went smoothly.
I’d imagine he’ll settle in nicely as a slot receiver in Year 1. Given his track record, I wouldn’t doubt that he makes an impact right away in that role, especially considering the Lions’ dearth of receiving depth.
3. What are his weaknesses?
St. Brown isn’t going to wow you with his separation off the line or his foot speed. He ran a 4.61 40 at his Pro Day, and I can understand why his stock might’ve fallen because of that.
He does not have the athletic upside of some of the other receivers in this class. He has a lean build, and it’s reasonable to think that he could struggle with more physical corners at the NFL level.
Outside of his four-touchdown game, it is fair to say that, for whatever reason, St. Brown took a bit of a step back during his pandemic-shortened final season.
4. Does Amon-Ra’s father still look like a terminator?
He’s not quite the hulking Mr. Universe he once was, but that doesn’t mean John Brown is any less intimidating, I’ll say that.
5. Can St. Brown be a number one receiver for the Lions right away? Or is he a project?
I wouldn’t rule it out. Among receivers coming out of this 2021 class, St. Brown is probably among the more polished. His ceiling just isn’t nearly as high as some of the other wideouts drafted ahead of him.
In the long term, I see St. Brown more as a solid No. 2 or No. 3 option in a strong passing offense, as opposed to the top option in a struggling one. But if he’s asked to fill that role early on, I wouldn’t bet against him.