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Amon-Ra St. Brown
NFL

Where Does Amon-Ra St. Brown Rank Among NFL’s Best WRs?

  • Jack McKessy
  • September 21, 2022
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Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown is quickly establishing himself as one of the NFL’s best young receivers.

Sunday’s nine-catch, 116-yard performance against the Washington Commanders has seemed to prove the hype surrounding St. Brown after a breakout second half last year is justified. The second-year receiver also accounted for a couple of the Lions’ scores on Sunday and tacked on 68 more yards from scrimmage on two carries. St. Brown’s immense contributions in the passing game paired with the very talented backfield of running backs D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams have given Detroit a high-powered offense through two weeks of 2022.

For much of his rookie season, St. Brown wasn’t a big factor in the Lions’ offense. He was a solid contributor for the first half of 2021, catching most of his 4-8 targets each game for anywhere between 20-70 yards. He only started in four of his first 11 games and didn’t have a single touchdown in that span. Through 11 career games, St. Brown had 39 receptions for 352 yards for an average of 3.5 catches and 32 yards per game.

In his 12th career game, a switch flipped and something started to happen. St. Brown got more time as a starter, which led to more targets, which led to more catches, which led to more production. In the final six games of the 2021 season, St. Brown caught 51 passes for 560 yards and five touchdowns. In each of those last six games, the rookie caught at least eight passes. By the end of that stretch, he was the Lions’ leader in receptions (90), yards (912), receiving touchdowns (5), and receptions of 20 or more yards (11).

Even after the Lions signed former Jaguars receiver D.J. Chark and drafted receiver Jameson Williams in the offseason, there was still plenty of optimism about St. Brown’s second season. He had shown so much potential in the second half of his rookie season, so with a full season as Detroit’s presumed WR1, the sky seemed to be the limit.

Two weeks into the 2022 season, that seems to be the case. St. Brown has looked every bit the dominant force he was late last season in his first two games of the season. The great route-running and separation creation are there. The good hands are there. The versatility as a slot and outside receiver as well as a potential rusher are there. The run-after-catch ability still looks clean. Perhaps most importantly, the production is matching the high levels we saw from St. Brown at the end of the 2021 season.

With two eight-reception games to begin the 2022 season, St. Brown extended his streak of games with at least that many catches to eight games dating back to last year, tying the NFL record. The second-year receiver is only the third player in NFL history to accomplish a streak that long after Antonio Brown did it in 2014 and Michael Thomas did it in 2019. St. Brown’s performance against the Commanders in Week 2 also featured two new career highs for the receiver with 116 receiving yards and two touchdowns in a single game.

It’s only been eight games—or about half a season—that we’ve really gotten to see what St. Brown is really capable of, but it may already be time to consider him as one of the NFL’s best receivers. He has the fourth-most receiving yards (740) of any pass-catcher since Week 13—the week his breakout began—last year. He’s tied for second with Davante Adams with eight touchdown catches in that span and stands alone in second with 68 receptions in that time, trailing only Cooper Kupp. In a half-season sample size—albeit one that spans two different seasons—that’s significant production.

I’m not quite ready to crown St. Brown a top-10 receiver given the limited sample size of impressive production compared to other young receivers. When it comes to the young stars around the league, I’m still higher on Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, and Jaylen Waddle. Super-productive veterans like Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, and Tyreek Hill all are higher than St. Brown in my mind as well.

That said, it’s not too early to start giving St. Brown attention as a potentially top-20 if not top-15 receiver right now. If he keeps up this level of immense production and dominance in the Lions’ offense this year and beyond, he’ll be playing himself into top-10 consideration sooner rather than later.

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Jack McKessy