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Detroit Lions rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown relishes proving NFL teams wrong with late-round success

Many players hit the so-called “rookie wall” near the end of their first NFL seasons. It’s arduous and intense: Between the college season, combined training, pro days, minicamp, OTAs, training camp and preseason, they haven’t fully rested in well over a year. Rather than faltering, Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown climbed aboard a rocket ship and soared over that obstacle, playing his best football to finish out his rookie campaign.


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St. Brown is busy piling up accomplishments over the second half of his rookie season. He was named offensive rookie of the month in December and is the first rookie in NFL history with at least eight catches in five straight games — all while playing in a bottom-10 passing offense.

The 2021 fourth-round pick caught 27 passes for 250 yards with no touchdowns in the first eight games of Detroit’s season. St. Brown has exploded since the Lions’ Week 9 bye, totaling 55 receptions for 553 yards with four touchdowns while adding six carries for 49 yards and another score over the last eight games.

Amon-Ra St. Brown WR Ranks | 2021
Category Figure Overall rank Rookie rank
PFF overall grade 76.7 24th Third
PFF receiving grade 76.7 23rd Third
Catches 82 14th Second
Yards 803 30th Fourth
TDs 4 41st Fifth
Yards after catch/reception 4.6 34th Fifth
Drop rate 2.4% Ninth First
Catch rate 78.1% Sixth Second
WR rating 103.3 39th Fourth

The USC product’s best stretch has come over the last five weeks, however, when he has moved around the formation and seen his playing time on the outside increase. He’s PFF’s top-graded rookie wide receiver (even over Cincinnati Bengals star Ja’Marr Chase) and only ranks behind Green Bay Packers wideout Davante Adams and Los Angeles Rams receiver Cooper Kupp overall during that stretch.

“Early on, I was just getting a feel for it — NFL, new stage,” St. Brown told PFF this week. “Then as the season kept going, I kept making more plays, they started involving me more in the offense. But personally, I feel like I've always been ready. It was just a matter of time till I got my opportunity, and once I got my opportunity I'm going to try and make the most of it.”

St. Brown WR Ranks | Since Week 13
Category Figure Overall rank Rookie rank
PFF overall grade 87.0 Third First
PFF receiving grade 87.1 Fourth First
Catches 43 Second First
Yards 451 Fifth Second
TDs 4 Fourth Second
Yards after catch/reception 4.4 41st Seventh
Drop rate 0.0% First First
Catch rate 79.6% 12th First
WR rating 118.4 24th Second

Sixteen wide receivers were picked before St. Brown in the 2021 NFL Draft. The 6-foot, 197-pound receiver is as precisely aware of this fact as he was upset he didn’t hear his name called on the first two days of the event.

He keeps track of those 16 rookie receivers and the teams that drafted them. And he is cognizant that despite being taken 112th overall, he’s outproducing all but the top-three drafted wide receivers: Chase, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and Philadelphia Eagles wideout Devonta Smith

“It was a feeling that I hated, but I carry that with me throughout whenever I'm training,” St. Brown said. “Whenever I'm trying to take it easy or I feel good about myself or, ‘Oh, it’s just another set,’ all I gotta do is if anyone reminds me or if I even think of it, it's go time. I'm going even harder. Those 16 receivers that went before me, I'll never forget.”

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He enjoys knowing that the teams that selected another receiver now have to, in turn, watch him succeed elsewhere.

“I want all the coaches that passed up on me to regret it. That's something that I love, them seeing me do great and them knowing they passed up on me is the feeling that I want them to never forget. I keep track of these receivers, also. I see what they're doing, check their stats and just keep pushing.”

The St. Brown 16
Player Team Rd Pick Snaps Rec Yards TDs Grade
Ja’Marr Chase CIN 1 5 933 79 1,429 13 82.8
Jaylen Waddle MIA 1 6 842 99 988 5 79.3
Devonta Smith PHI 1 10 902 61 875 5 76.4
Kadarius Toney NYG 1 20 302 39 420 0 72.8
Rashod Bateman BAL 1 27 542 44 493 1 66.0
Elijah Moore NYJ 2 34 476 43 538 5 71.2
Rondale Moore ARI 2 49 431 54 435 1 71.2
D’Wayne Eskridge SEA 2 56 175 10 64 1 59.0
Tutu Atwell LAR 2 57 10 0 0 0 0
Terrance Marshall CAR 2 59 422 17 138 0 53.3
Josh Palmer LAC 3 77 401 29 308 3 62.2
Dyami Brown WAS 3 82 315 12 165 0 55.9
Amari Rodgers GB 3 85 72 3 40 0 64.0
Nico Collins HOU 3 89 465 30 379 1 63.8
Anthony Schwartz CLE 3 91 259 9 122 1 57.7
Dez Fitzpatrick TEN 4 109 99 5 49 1 64.7
Amon-Ra St. Brown DET 4 112 760 82 803 4 76.7

St. Brown is the only wide receiver selected on the third day of the 2021 NFL Draft with more than 11 catches and 133 yards. Only two other Day 3 wideouts have receiving touchdowns this season.

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