Reggie Wayne, a 14-year NFL veteran and current NFL analyst, admits he was caught off guard by the success of second-year wide receiver Kenny Golladay this past season.
Golladay reached the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the first time in his career with 1,063 yards on 70 catches (15.1 avg.) in 2018. He posted three 100-yard receiving games, including a career-high 146-yard performance on seven receptions in Buffalo Week 15.
"When they got rid of Golden Tate, I was like, 'Who's going to be the guy?" Wayne said last week in Atlanta. "But man, caught everyone by surprise. He (Golladay) was definitely under my radar."
As Wayne thought about it a little more, he said Golladay's first two years in the league reminded him a little bit of his own career early on.
View photos of the Detroit Lions' 2018 wide receivers.
"Even for myself, my rookie year, I was hurt. High ankle sprain and had 27 catches for 345 yards," Wayne said. "But I was able to sit back and learn and sit back and grow and kind of just sit back and watch."
Golladay went through a similar situation as a rookie in 2017. A hamstring injury forced him to miss five games and he finished with 28 receptions for 477 yards as a rookie. Like Wayne, Golladay has talked in the past about how that time being sidelined as a rookie helped him see the game in a little different perspective.
Wayne, who caught over 1,000 passes for more than 14,000 yards and 82 touchdowns in his career, said it took him a couple years to kind of dial in and figure the league out. His first 1,000-yard season wasn't until year four, but his numbers went up in each of his first seven seasons. The fact that Golladay was so productive early on has impressed Wayne.
Wayne said Golladay entered the league in a good situation with veterans Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. to show him the ropes. After Tate was traded midseason, and Jones injured his knee, it was up to Golladay to step into a leading role maybe sooner than the Lions had hoped. The good thing for both Golladay's future and the Lions' offense is that the moment didn't seem too big for him.
"Man, his future is really bright," Wayne said of Golladay. "He definitely has what it takes. He's got a gunslinger (at quarterback), that's half the battle. I think he's their future, I really do."