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Lions looking to take Golladay's game to the next level

Kenny Golladay is one of the best young receivers in the NFL. He made his first Pro Bowl last year, he's had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, and he led the league with 11 touchdown grabs last year.

But what's the next step for Golladay entering his fourth season? How does he go from being one of the better young receivers in this league to being one of the best receivers period?

It's a conversation offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and Golladay began to have this offseason.

"He had a really nice year last year for us and we hope he continues to have many more like that," Bevell said Saturday in a Zoom call with reporters. "There's specific things that we're talking to him that he can take his game to the next level. Really, you want him to be thought of with the (Deandre) Hopkins and (Michael) Thomas and those type of players, where he is really dictating to the defense how they have to cover him.

"Sometimes that's where that guy gets double covered, he's worried about all the time, and you help your teammates. But when you're in that go-to opportunity, and that's the guy, and it's like everyone knows Kenny Golladay's getting the ball and everyone knows he's still going to make the play. That's really where we're trying to get him to, be that dominant-level player."

Golladay had the most touchdowns among all receivers last season and his 17 receptions of 25-plus yards also led the NFL, but the biggest difference between his numbers and those of Hopkins or Thomas is the sheer volume of receptions no matter what defenses do to try and limit them. Hopkins, who was traded to Arizona this offseason, has caught at least 100 passes in each of his last two seasons. Thomas set an NFL record with 149 grabs last season and has at least 100 catches in each of his last three seasons.

To Bevell's point, everyone knew the ball was going to Hopkins and Thomas in the Texans' and Saints' passing offenses the past couple seasons, but it didn't matter. That's where Bevell wants Golladay's game to evolve to.

The Lions have three good receivers in Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola, and they like to distribute the ball around to all three, which is one of the reasons why Golladay had 65 receptions last season. All three Lions receivers had at least 60 catches last season.

But in crunch time, needing a big play late in a game, the Lions want Golladay to be that go-to player where defenses know it's coming and still have a hard time stopping it, much like Calvin Johnson was for the team.

The good thing for Golladay is he's only entering his fourth season and the ceiling is still very high for the former third-round pick out of Northern Illinois. He's in line for a contract extension likely sometime this year, and he's a big part of Bevell's plans on offense this year.

Can Golladay make the jump from being among a group of 10 or so receivers considered to be the best in the game to being one of the top three? That's what Bevell and Golladay are aiming for.

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