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Monday open thread: Will Amon-Ra St. Brown be the Lions’ top receiver next season?

The young receiver is shining, but will that continue in 2022?

Detroit Lions v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Expectations were already high for Amon-Ra St. Brown entering the regular season. With a sparse wide receiver group, many Detroit Lions fans were hoping the fourth-round rookie would slide into the role of WR1. After a modest start to the season, it seemed like those expectations were indeed too lofty for the young receiver.

How things change.

After posting just 27 receptions for 250 yards in his first eight games, St. Brown has developed into the star of the Lions’ offense. In his last five games, he has 57 catches for 451 yards and five touchdowns (including one rushing TD), becoming the go-to guy for Jared Goff and Tim Boyle. If you follow the Detroit Lions PR account on Twitter, Sunday’s game against the Seahawks was littered with St. Brown stats. Perhaps the most impressive stat is his reception streak:

Being in the same sentence as Calvin Johnson is a rare feat to achieve, and he has done it as a rookie. Sunday’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks was the first 100-yard game of his career, and he scored a rushing touchdown as the cherry on top. The San Francisco 49ers’ Deebo Samuel has taken the league by storm with his receiving and rushing abilities, and the Lions are experimenting with similar plays for St. Brown. So far, the results are positive.

When very little was working against the Seahawks, St. Brown took the offense on his back, creating clutch play after play. He was certainly the WR1 for the Lions that game, and has been their top receiver down the stretch.

However, will he continue that success into 2022 as another offseason looms?

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Will Amon-Ra St. Brown be the Lions’ top receiver next season?

My answer: I think he will.

There is obviously a lot left before the Lions hit the field for the 2022 NFL season, but the emergence of St. Brown over the past month has been extremely encouraging. He has primarily played in the slot (over 500 snaps), but still has the ability and experience to play outside too (over 150 snaps). Given the injuries and struggles of the remaining receivers, the Lions have not shied away from using him at multiple positions.

However, St. Brown’s usage is a byproduct of a lack of options on the offense. This isn’t a critique of St. Brown—he is doing excellently in his role—but it does make you pause when considering next year’s target share. The Lions still need another top receiver (or two), specifically along the outside, and that could come in the draft or free agency. If the Lions add a top prospect or a top free agent, could they eat into St. Brown’s targets?

Reuniting St. Brown with USC teammate Drake London is a good fit in multiple ways, and could be a target late in the first round or early in the second. Add in prospects like Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave from Ohio State, Jameson Williams and John Metchie from Alabama, and Treylon Burks from Arkansas, and the early rounds are rich with starting-caliber receiver talent.

The free agent pool looks deep as well, but some key injuries have taken their toll. With Chris Godwin already out with a torn ACL, Michael Gallup suffered the same injury on Sunday. They were two prime candidates for the Lions as young receivers with the ability to play outside. There is the benefit of buying low on them, but it always comes with a risk. Still, the projected free agent pool also includes the likes of Davante Adams, Mike Williams, Odell Beckham Jr., and D.J. Chark. There is a bevy of options for Detroit, although some will break the bank.

Despite the potential to add talented targets next offseason, I still believe St. Brown has a good chance of leading the Lions’ receivers next season. It’s not uncommon for slot receivers to be the top target on the team, such as Cooper Kupp or CeeDee Lamb. With Jared Goff likely to helm the offense in 2022, a reliable slot receiver like St. Brown could pay dividends. Goff frequently leaned on Kupp during his time with the Rams, and a similar connection could develop with St. Brown. Kupp has jumped into the upper echelon of receivers this year, so I’m not expecting St. Brown to do so as well, but we are seeing the foundation for a talented player to develop.

Goff’s success as a quarterback is heavily reliant on familiarity, as seen with his early struggles in 2021. When the chemistry between quarterback and receiver is missing, the offense stalls. The acquisition of Josh Reynolds highlighted the importance of having a familiar target, and despite missing some games this year, it seems like Goff is developing chemistry with St. Brown as well. At the very least, St. Brown is proving to be a player that any quarterback can lean on.

I don’t want to set expectations too high for the young receiver, but I am excited to see him in years to come. If he can maintain this level of play, he could be an incredible asset for the Lions. If he can improve upon this, he could be a star.

Your turn.

Poll

Will Amon-Ra St. Brown be the Lions’ top receiver next season?

  • 52%
    Yes
    (455 votes)
  • 47%
    No
    (409 votes)
864 votes total Vote Now