After catching some rays in Florida, it was time to come back to reality and cool down. This time Reisman had me going to DeKalb, Illinois, a small college town just 30 miles west of Aurora, Illinois: The site of Waynestock and the place I first asked myself, why do they come to me to die?
Reisman sent me to Northern Illinois to find out all that I could about the Lions third-round pick, Kenny Golladay, a small school receiver who found himself going way earlier than anyone else could have anticipated. Most had him in the fourth or fifth round.
Upon my arrival in DeKalb, I procured a room at the Ellwood House Museum using my celebrity status. The next day I grabbed breakfast at Tom and Jerry’s restaurant and caught a show at the Egyptian Theatre before heading to Northern Illinois University. It was there that I met up with Jesse Severson of the Daily Chronicle. Here’s what he had to say about Golladay.
POD: What are your overall thoughts on Golladay's career at Northern Illinois?
DC: “Nobody really knew what to expect from him because he was kind of an unknown when he transferred from North Dakota. He didn't get much attention coming out of high school in Chicago and spent two years with North Dakota before coming over to Northern Illinois. In his first game with the Huskies – a win over UNLV – he ended up with nine catches for 213 yards and made people realize, 'This guy can play.' He only had two years with Northern Illinois but still had the sixth most career catches and was tied for fifth for most receiving yards and is the only player in school history with back-to-back seasons with 1,000 receiving yards. The team had so many injuries in his two years (especially at QB) and he never had a stable quarterback to throw him the ball – because of injuries they had to start a walk-on true freshman who was the fifth-string quarterback and doesn't even play football anymore in the 2015 MAC Championship. However, there was always a sense that they were one Golladay touch away from making a big play.”
POD: What are his strengths?
DC: “He's fairly versatile. They used him as a big-play guy over the top, but he wasn't above just catching those 8-10 yard hitches when the defense was giving it to him. Also, they used him on jet sweeps along the outside. However, his bread and butter was always the big play. He routinely made one-handed catches and anytime the ball was headed his way on a deep ball, it was easy to assume that if the ball was anywhere near him that he'd come down with it.”
POD: What are his weaknesses?
DC: “In terms of weaknesses, I think it's the same as you see with a lot of big play kind of receivers where he dropped a couple of easy ones. However, it wasn't really a chronic problem for him. It's also a little tricky to judge, based off him playing in the MAC, so there were some defensive backs where he could make the play on them because he was just simply more athletic and a better player.”
POD: The Lions need a third receiver that they can groom for the future. But is Golladay a day one starter in the NFL?
DC: “I mean, I think it's always a little tricky to assume a rookie can come in and be a starter Day 1. It's so hard, but I think it will come down to how he adjusts to seeing much better defensive players coming him way. He does seem like he's not fazed by the big moment. During the Northern Illinois pro day, with plenty of scouts on hand and knowing all eyes were on him, he hauled in every pass that came his way – including a tough one-handed grab on the sideline. I thought he would go more in the fourth or fifth round, but I think we've seen that receivers from smaller schools can be successful in the NFL, considering he played in the same conference as Antonio Brown (Central Michigan).”
Golladay was a player that immediately excited me when the Lions announced the pick. The Lions are in need of that No. 3 guy and Golladay should become that guy early on in his career.
Any time you can get yourself a 6-foot-4 receiver that can give you a big presence in the red zone, as well as having the speed to make a big play anywhere else on the field, you can count your lucky stars. I’m not sure enough is being made of Golladay’s athleticism. That’s the nature of the beast when it comes to small school players, but just look at some of things that he can bring to the table.