Entering the draft, many in the fantasy community expected Detroit to draft a RB more so than WR. However, following free agency and the departure of Anquan Bolden, the Lions were left with just Marvin Jones and Golden Tate as recognized names at wide-out. This led to Motown selecting Kenny Golladay in the 3rd round (96th overall).
Not many analysts were predicting the raw WR out of Northern Illinois to be drafted as high as that, yet not too many experts have criticized the selection. ESPN’s NFL Draft analysts Todd McShay and Mel Kiper described the lanky receiver as “pretty nice piece of clay for the Detroit Lions to mold”. Measuring in at 6’4”, 218 pounds, Golladay is certainly the biggest option Detroit has on the outside. The first-team All-MAC wide receiver also has decent athleticism. At the NFL combine he ran a 4.50 40 yard dash, had a 35.5” vertical, and a 10’0” broad jump. With that height, weight, speed profile, the potential is clear to see. In fact, his speed-score of 110.7 ranks in the 92nd percentile of NFL WRs. Furthermore, Golladay has a catch radius in the 79th percentile of Wide Receivers in the league, and a college dominator rating in the 82nd percentile. McShay added, “You look at him, he also does a good job with the ball in his hands as a runner, they got him involved there. He’s a huge target. This guy’s 6-4, 218 pounds, ran a 4.5 at the combine – 4.5 flat at that size – and had a 1.58 in his 10-yard split, so this is a guy who gets a good top speed and gets there quickly. I think he has a lot of tools to develop. I didn’t think he was going to go this early (in the draft), but I understand as a developmental project he’s got a lot to work with.”
Golladay took an unorthodox path to get to the big stage. He began his career at North Dakota, and after decent sophomore campaign he transferred to the NIU Huskies. After sitting out the 2014 season, he produced 2 impressive years as a Junior and Senior, totaling 2,285 yards and 18 TDs on 160 catches. That made him the first NIU receiver to record back to back 1,000 yard seasons. A full breakdown of Golladay’s college production can be seen below:
Despite being considered as a developmental prospect by many, opportunity is ripe in Detroit. Currently many are anticipating unknown Jace Billingsley to sit in the 3rd WR slot, and Marvin Jones faded badly down the stretch in 2016. Despite that, there are definite areas that Golladay can improve. It would be easy to consider Golladay as an elite college catcher after PFF noted that he only dropped 5 of 165 catchable targets. However, as Mel Kiper states, he tends to make a lot of body catches. He states, “He can track the ball over his shoulder. What he needs to do is not let the ball get into his body as much as he does. He’s big at 6-4, 218. You just snatch the ball with your hands and don’t let it get into your body; at the pro level, you can’t do that and get away with it.”
Golladay also displays incredibly raw route running ability and that certainly needs to be treated sharply by Robert Prince. Nevertheless, with his big frame and blocking ability, and a chance to earn snaps with a talented QB, Golladay should begin appearing on our radar. Draft Analyst’s Tony Pauline and CBS’ Rob Rang declared that Golladay “deserved more attention” following his combine workouts and they weren’t wrong. Dane Brugler further analyzes that “Golladay provides a large strike zone for Stafford and is a capable catch-and-run target capable of racking up TDs in Detroit.” For the price that he’s going at in rookie drafts, I can’t help but be attracted. If Kenny is available at the end of the 3rd round or even 4th round in your rookie drafts, “Give him your attention,” as Rob Rang put it.