Kenny Golladay: A Deeper Look At The Lions Third Round Pick

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With The Third Pick In The Draft, The Detroit Lions Pick A Wide-Receiver.

Kenny Golladay is the type of pick that nobody saw coming, but everyone seems to like after the draft. He is a perfect Bob Quinn draft pick. He was not expected to go that high and has traits that easily make you understand why the team was high on him. The Lions went after a prospect that they hope can turn into the player they need next year. Golladay began the pre-draft process by shining at the East-West Shrine game and finished his college career with two seasons over 1100 yards receiving.

According to Bob Quinn, the Lions are hoping for another season with Anquan Boldin in the picture. Quinn said in his press conference after the draft, “The Door is open.” Boldin is exactly the type of player the Lions are hoping Golladay will become, and has shown a willingness in the past to mentor young receivers. A season learning from one of the greatest of all time at the position he hopes to fill would do Golladay a world of good, and take some pressure off the rookie.

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What Kenny Golladay’s Highlights Show

A popular scouting adage is “Don’t tell me what he can’t do, tell me what he can.” A quick viewing of his highlight reel shows that whether it is thrown at his ankles, over his head, on his back hip or he has to reach over a defender, Golladay catches the ball. His production in the red zone is spectacular, and his ability to high point balls is the reason. His touchdown production comes from more than just jump balls in the red zone though.

Kenny Golladay has a unique ability to adjust to the ball in the air. Most receivers will adjust to the trajectory of the ball with only their hands while Golladay uses his feet as well. He adjusts the speed he is running to make catches easy. On longer throws that keep his feet moving, even when the throw is way behind him and shields the ball from the defender. Whereas many receivers will catch a ball thrown behind them on a deep route with their chest fully turned toward the quarterback, Golladay just slows down and catches the ball over his shoulder as though it were perfect.

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Digging Deeper On Kenny Golladay

Watching his highlights Golladay stands equal to or better than any receiver in the class. His name was rarely mentioned before the draft however, and for the most part it was as a late day three flier. Watching a couple game films a slightly different picture starts to emerge. The first thing you notice that doesn’t really translate to a highlight reel is how physical he can be. that doesn’t sound like a fault, but at times it is. There are multiple occasions in press coverage where rather than fight off the defender and continue his route, he engages in a shoving match.

That same aggressiveness makes him a very effective blocker. When he gets his hands on a defensive back, a stalemate is the worst outcome you’ll see. The problem is that unless he is directly involved in the play, he tends to not get there. If he is leading the blocking on a bubble screen you get one version of him. He explodes into his man, driving them back and creating space for the target. Golladay is also more than willing to take a hit to make a catch. He is able to find an opening underneath zone coverage and ignores the prospect on an incoming tackler to reel the ball in.

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Kenny Golladay’s Downside

On plays where he is tangentially involved you get something different from Kenny Golladay. On a running play up the middle, he will saunter up the field, neither running an effective fake pattern or blocking anyone. He isn’t dogging it, but he needs to be more proactive in finding someone to block. He is not trying to avoid blocking anyone but waiting for a defender to come to him. A running back will often pass him and be tackled downfield by a player Golladay could have blocked if he had been moving downfield faster. This is an area where Boldin’s tutelage would pay great dividends. The cagey veteran is among the NFL’s best blockers at the position because of the way he moves up the field to find a target.

This problem also extends to the patterns Golladay runs when the ball is going elsewhere. It is common in lower level college offenses, particularly when a quarterback is young, for the target of a throw to have been determined before the snap. It is very easy to tell at the snap whether that target is Golladay. He does run a pattern but is definitely not giving 100% every time. In a pro-style offense, he will need to adjust to the idea that the ball might be coming his way on any given play.

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So What Did The Lions Get In Kenny Golladay?

He is a raw talent, but the talent is undeniable. Kenny Golladay’s flaws can be coached. He has size, weight, speed that can not. He ran a 4.50 40 yard dash and looked smooth in the wide receiver drills at 6’4″ and 213 lbs. The young man has the excuse for his rough spots of having come from the MAC, a conference not exactly known for churning out polished players. Golladay did what you would expect a legitimate NFL prospect to do in that conference, and dominated. He is not a day one starter for the Lions, but by the time the 2018 season rolls around Kenny Golladay is going to feature prominently in the Lions plans.

Golladay is from Chicago and grew up a Bears fan. During his introductory conference call, he was asked whether he used to cheer for the Bears to beat the Lions. “I just wanted the Bears to win, but that’s totally different now.”


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About the Author

Ash Thompson
Ash Thompson is a fanatical football fan, and less fanatical hockey fan despite his Canadian heritage. He is sorry aboot that. His spirit animal is a beaver with a shark's head. He enjoys maple syrup and tacos, but never at the same time.