LOS ANGELES – Amon-Ra St. Brown might have been the 17th wide receiver taken in last year's NFL Draft, but only a few of the 16 selected ahead of him had the impact St. Brown did, and the league's former receivers and NFL analysts have taken notice.
"I watched this guy and broke him down (before the draft) and he's an extremely explosive player," former Packers wide receiver and current NFL analyst James Jones said of St. Brown on Wednesday in LA. "When you watch him play, the first thing that jumps out is how smart he is, understanding defenses and how to get open and things like that.
"I'm not surprised at all (by St. Brown's success). I think he has a bright future. I love the way he plays the game. I think Detroit got a really good player. I mean, it's a steal getting him in the fourth round, and I think you're going to see some really good things from him."
Jones said the No. 1 key to being a good receiver in this league is being good at running routes.
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"If you can run routes you play in this league for a long time and that's what he's good at," Jones said.
St. Brown set Lions rookie franchise records in receptions (90) and receiving yards (912). He also became the first rookie in NFL history to produce six straight games with eight or more receptions and became the first Lions rookie to record a touchdown in four straight games.
That was something NFL Network analyst and former Bengals and Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins pointed out as the thing that impressed him the most with St. Brown's rookie season. Hawkins said it's impressive for any player to have that kind of stretch of games when the defense is geared up to stop it. St. Brown's ability to do it as a rookie speaks to his maturity.
St. Brown proved he can make the big plays when his team needed it, especially down the stretch. Not all rookies are ready for those moments.
"Oh my god, if he continues down this path, especially with the way (he) started. You know what I think about, man? The numbers that are going to be out there for the wide receivers when those guys come up," Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin said Wednesday when asked about St. Brown and all the talented young receivers in the league right now.
Irvin has watched the development of the receiver position with a close eye over the years.
"Now you've got Deebo Samuel is up. You got Davante Adams. All of those (young receivers), when they come up, (Ja'Marr) Chase and St. Brown, all of them, they are going to be getting brand new crazy numbers," he said.
St. Brown's abilities as a pass catcher are well documented, but one thing that can go unnoticed is that he was Detroit's best blocking receiver as a rookie. That's something Jones said Lions fans should like the most about St. Brown, because it speaks to his football character.
"It just tells you that he's raised well, man," Jones said. "When it comes down to blocking that's the time when you show your team that you're unselfish. I think especially as a young player you're going to get the respect of your peers, especially when they see you out there doing it.
"I'm just excited because it's a different mentality. If you look at receivers it's like, 'Throw us the ball.' That's just kind of how we're built. When you're able to get a guy that's like, 'man, I'm trying to be a complete receiver and do it all,' you know that's big time, specially at an early age in his career."
St. Brown looks to have a very bright future ahead of him, and the NFL community is taking notice.