With The 96th Pick In The 2017 NFL Draft, The Lions Select Kenny Golladay, Receiver, Northern Illinois.
Kenny Golladay quickly became a hot pick for the Lions. In his first preseason game, the rookie receiver notched a pair of touchdown receptions and a star was born. The next logical step for fans was deciding on a nickname for the youngster. The internet was buzzing with ideas, though I’m not certain that anything became official. Besides, plenty of rookies have flashed in the preseason. Why jump the gun on what could be a fluke? He would have to show up in the games that mattered.
Regular Season Week 1: 4 Receptions, 69 yards, 2 TDs
Kenny Golladay was off to the races in a season-opening win that won’t soon be forgotten. It seemed easy for him. Afterall, he couldn’t be overshadowed by former Lions WR Charles Rogers in his rookie debut (4/38/2 also against AZ). His size advantage was evident on his first score, a 10-yard jump ball over Cardinals corner Justin Bethel. On his second score, he beat Bethel again, this time with his speed. Golladay ran right past Bethel before finding himself on the receiving end of a 45-yard rocket from quarterback Matthew Stafford. Size and speed, what’s not to love?
After week one, however, things got much less exciting. Golladay collected three catches for 33 yards in the next two before suffering a hamstring injury. The hammy kept him out for the next five games. He would return in week 10 against Cleveland where he was able to show off a bit. Golladay snagged a single pass for at least 31 yards in four straight games upon returning and ended each game with 44 yards or more. That’s impressive to me for a rookie coming off an injury that hobbled him as long as the hamstring did.
The rest of the year was mediocre until week 17 against Green Bay. Golladay found himself finishing the season where he started it, in the end zone. Stafford was able to find him over the middle on a post route. The ball traveled around 25 yards in the air but Golladay did the rest. After the catch, he delivered a beautiful stiff arm to a Packers defender and easily pranced into the end zone for a 54-yard touchdown. A fine way to bookend a rookie season.
Kenny Golladay certainly showed some sparks. The question is how high is this kid’s ceiling? He has the physical tools to be a big part of the offense in the future. At 6’4” he stood as one of the tallest receivers at the combine last year. His 4.50 forty time isn’t blistering fast, but it isn’t slow either. Cooper Kupp and JuJu Smith-Schuster are among the names of fellow rookie receivers that turned in slower times and they’ve already become household names. Golladay’s biggest strength may actually be his strength. At 218 pound he was able to put up 18 reps on the bench, putting him near the top of the category. And his hands are big and strong to go with the rest of him. He’ll need to work on his route running a bit, but that’s common procedure for a young receiver.
Golladay will likely find himself starting as an outside receiver opposite of receiver Marvin Jones. This luxury will allow the Lions to keep receiver Golden Tate in the slot where he’s best suited. They would like to be in a 3 wide set most downs as it is, but when the three are all as dangerous as the Lions wideouts, it’s a no-brainer. The hope is that Golladay can use his size to help aid some of the red zone ailments the Lions had last season as well. It’s important to keep in mind that receivers tend to take 2-3 years to develop. What we see in the upcoming season is likely still foreshadowing, but with an increase in opportunity and a little luck with health, Kenny Golladay could have a hell of a season in year two.