PFF Article on St. Brown

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

By Doug Kyed
Jan 6, 2022

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.

He’s just a rookie, but the Anaheim Hills, California, native comes from one of the most interesting backgrounds in the NFL. His father, John Brown, a former bodybuilder who won Mr. World three times and Mr. Universe twice, has been referred to as the LaVar Ball of football. Two of Ball’s sons, Lonzo and LaMelo, were top-five picks in the NBA draft. Another son, LiAngelo, currently plays in the NBA G League.

St. Brown can’t blame people for making the comparison. Both fathers pushed their three sons in a specific sport and saw results. St. Brown’s older brother, Equanimeous, is a wide receiver on the Green Bay Packers who was selected in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame. Their middle brother, Osiris, played football at Stanford. Amon-Ra is the youngest but has the most potential of the three siblings. They also all speak three languages and have been lifting weights and training for the pros since they were children.

Jan 2, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (14) rushes for a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks during the second quarter at Lumen Field. Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Amon-Ra maintains a strong relationship with his father and still follows his leadership.

“He’s really instilled the hard work into me, and I’m just taking whatever he taught me and running with it,” St. Brown said.

He continues to supplement his workouts with what he learned from his dad, and he still catches 202 passes after every practice.

Why 202?

St. Brown, still in sixth grade, was at a 7-on-7 tournament with his father and brothers, and one of the other players was catching everything thrown his way. So Brown asked the player’s father what his secret was. The young player caught 200 passes from a Jugs machine every day.

“So, my dad being the guy he is, he got a Jugs machine online,” St. Brown said. “Took some time to get there but we got it.

“He said, ‘We can’t be like him. We gotta be better.’ So, we caught 202, and that’s always been my number. Ever since that day, 202 has always been my number.”

It’s worked well for him: The former Trojan already has one of the lowest drop rates in the NFL and believes his sure hands are one of his biggest strengths.

“I think I do a lot of great things, just a natural feel for the game,” St. Brown said. “I think I have great awareness when I’m out there, whether seeing zone coverages, sitting in zones, knowing how to get open in certain situations. Obviously catching the ball, my toughness, ability to run after the catch. Things like that that I love about my game.”

St. Brown’s season is almost over, but he already has his sights set on 2022. He would need nearly 200 receiving yards in Week 18 to get to 1,000 this season, but his goal is to hit that mark in 2022. He also wants to be named to the Pro Bowl.

It’s been a difficult season for the Lions. They’re 2-13-1, and every time things seem to be going their way, they get hit with injuries or another impediment. St. Brown, though, is already one of the most promising young wide receivers in the NFL. Lions quarterbacks have a 103.3 passer rating when targeting St. Brown; that figure dips to 78.9 while targeting any other pass-catcher on the roster. St. Brown has the 10th-highest receiving grade of any rookie receiver over the last five years.

Detroit’s leading receiver is providing a glimmer of hope for the team as the franchise continues to build toward a better future.


St. Brown has nearly identical rookie numbers to Devonta Smith who was picked 10th overall and many posters on this board wanted in the draft. What a steal St. Brown was.

On another note Ja’Marr Chase’s rookie season in mind blowing. 1400 yards and 13 TD’s. Wow


Love the 202 catches story :+1:

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