In the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions selected wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown out of USC. It was a move that didn’t receive too much fanfare at the time as he was the 17th wide receiver taken in the draft. That is something that he uses as motivation, as he has taken the league by storm since.
St. Brown has quickly turned into a go-to receiver for the Lions and one of the best young players in the league at his position. From the end of his rookie season into his sophomore season, he caught at least eight passes in eight straight games, emerging as the favorite target for Jared Goff.
The former Trojan is a tactician on the field with his route running and he is looking to take his game to another level in Year 3. Through his first two seasons, St. Brown could be described as a possession receiver, racking up first downs with regularity. Goff could always find him on intermediate and short routes, but he is looking to expand his game.
This season, St. Brown wants to become more of a deep threat for the Lions in the passing game. It is something that his wide receivers coach, former NFL wideout Antwaan Randle El, is confident can happen.
“He can get in and out of cuts so easily, like he doesn’t have to give all that extra stuff cause he can just get out of it so fast,” Randle El said recently, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “So I just want [him] to just run that smooth route. Like, you don’t have to give any extra at the top of it, just, pop-pop, come on out of it and he’s been doing it in OTAs so that’s been a growth for him. So no extra movement, just get in the route, come out of it because he gets in the route so fast.”
St. Brown has shown an ability to make plays after the ball is in his hands with his strength and athleticism. To become a deep threat, he will have to do most of that work without the ball in his hands, beating defenders and finding opportunities to get open down the field.
A 4.61 40-yard dash time doesn’t usually translate to someone becoming a deep threat, but no one is going to count St. Brown out. He is a tireless worker and has taken the league by storm in his first two seasons; if anyone is going to overcome the odds and reshape their game, it is him.
With DJ Chark moving on in free agency and 2022 first-round pick Jameson Williams suspended, the Lions are lacking that vertical threat from their lineup currently. St. Brown could certainly fill that void if given the chance as adding some deep balls to the mix would only make his already impressive repertoire that much more dangerous.