When I brought up blocking to Detroit Lions rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, a huge grin appeared on his face.
This week, a video of St. Brown plastering two 49ers defenders on separate chip blocks went viral. At the time of writing this, over 75,000 people have viewed it. St. Brown knew immediately what I was referencing, and it’s clear he wears his blocking abilities as a badge of honor.
“I’ve always kind of had that mentality, that blocking mentality in me. I think it’s huge,” St. Brown said on Wednesday.
Anyone who has viewed St. Brown’s tape at USC already knew this about him. The Lions certainly did. Here’s what general manager Brad Holmes had to say about St. Brown just hours after drafting him.
“Usually I don’t try to put too much emphasis on blocking for a wide receiver, I just want to see if they’re tough enough and willing to do it, but he’s one of the most impressive blockers that I saw in this draft class,” Holmes said. “I just think in that phase of the game, the tenacity that he brings in that phase just says a lot about his intangibles and his football character.”
St. Brown told me this week that he draws inspiration for his blocking tenacity from his days as a running back. Nothing makes you appreciate good blocking more than carrying the ball out of the backfield.
“I think being a running back and having a receiver that doesn’t block is one of the worst feelings ever,” St. Brown said. “You’re breaking two tackles and corner tackles you. So for me, it’s just making sure my guy doesn’t make the tackle and blocking hard every day.”
He also draws inspiration from one of the best to ever do it. St. Brown has already drawn comparisons to Hall of Fame wide receiver Hines Ward for his physical nature, and when asked if Ward was someone he tries to model his game after, he agreed.
“Definitely. Hines Ward. 100 percent,” he said.
Though the two outlined blocks in the viral video (below) were in pass protection—helping out rookie Penei Sewell in his first NFL game—St. Brown’s blocking, along with the rest of Detroit’s offensive front, allowed the Lions to rush for 116 yards and 4.8 yards per carry against a good 49ers defense. Only six teams averaged more yards per carry in Week 1.