After the 2020 season, the Detroit Lions receiving corps took a major hit. In what felt like one fell swoop, the Lions lost Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola. This, of course, left the Lions receiver corps in peril.
It didn’t get any better from there. The Lions signed Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams in free agency. Perriman was gone after training camp and Williams suffered a concussion Week 1 and never came back. Detroit scrambled and added KhaDarel Hodge and Trinity Benson. Both have since struggled. Benson isn’t even making the gameday roster anymore.
During the draft, the Lions seemed to ignore their need at receiver when they waited until the fourth round and only walked away with one guy.
It gets worse. Quintez Cephus had some promising moments early in the season, but then suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against the Bears in October.
So, yeah, it’s safe to say that the Lions are going to be looking for receiving help in March and April. They need to bulk up in this area if they hope to have their quarterback, whoever that winds up being, succeed.
The good news here is that Lions might have their top guy already. It’s that one guy they walked away with in April’s draft, Amon-Ra St. Brown.
The former USC Trojan has had a good rookie year altogether, but it’s his work as of late that’s impressed the most. Since the bye week, St. Brown has caught 47 passes for 443 yards a three touchdowns. He’s been giving defenses fits and making impressive catches. The JUGS machine that St. Brown loves so much has clearly been working for the kid.
it certainly helps that the Lions offense has improved, too. Dan Campbell has taken over play calling duties and clearly likes calling St. Brown’s number. There’s a reason for that. He’s been targeted 60 times and he’s only missed 13 of them. None of those were drops either. St. Brown hasn’t dropped a pass since Week 2.
“He’s one of those guys that as a play-caller, I trust all the time and I know the quarterbacks do, too,” Campbell said after Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.
St. Brown has also shown that he has to ability to do other things, too. On Sunday, St. Brown had two really nicely-designed run plays go his way and he nailed both of them. He’s also showed that he’s capable of some serious yards after the catch. His 317 YAC is second only to Lions running back D’Andre Swift. Just look at this move he pulled against the Cardinals last week.
It’s clear that St. Brown makes the Lions offense better. He’s also grading out at a pretty nice 70.9 on Pro Football Focus. That’s pretty good for a guy taken outside of the first round.
One last case for St. Brown is that he’s only the second Lions receiver to ever have back-to-back games with eight or more receptions. The other is a guy you may have heard of... Calvin... something.
So where does it go from here? The Lions will undoubtedly look to add help at receiver going into free agency and the draft. Does St. Brown’s rise change the strategy on that? Is St. Brown the Lions top guy at receiver, or will they go out and grab a guy they plan to be the top dog?
There are going to be options like Allen Robinson in free agency and the Lions have a second first-round pick that could be used on one of the top receivers in the draft. This is a pretty good receiving class no matter where the Lions pick on Day 1 or Day 2.
At this point it seems fair to believe that Jared Goff will be the Lions quarterback in 2022, and he certainly has built up a chemistry with St. Brown. That chemistry could lead to St. Brown being the Lions’ top receiver regardless of what they do.
We can’t fully tell the future right now, but it looks pretty bright for St. Brown. That’s a big deal for a team that seemed like they had no future options at the position just a couple months ago.