Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown Earns Comparison to Steelers Legend

Detroit Lions

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images Detroit Lions standout Amon-Ra St. Brown is one of the NFL's top wide receivers, rival players and league executives say.

Amon-Ra St. Brown is one of the NFL’s most exciting young wide receivers, and one of his long-time friends and rivals believes it’s easy to see why.

“He’s not just speed,” Los Angeles Rams safety Quentin Lake told Heavy by phone, shortly after the Super Bowl. “He’s not just strength. He’s not just hands. You know, he has everything.”

St. Brown and the Detroit Lions barnstormed to the doorstep of Super Bowl Sunday, falling to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship, as the 24-year-old simultaneously emerged as a focal point of Jared Goff‘s arsenal and his ascent among the top receivers in the sport.

“He reminds me a lot of Hines Ward,” a rival NFC executive told Heavy of St. Brown’s potential. “He’s tough, he’s smart, he can break off big plays after the catch, and he can block. The kid’s just a winner.”

Ward, a two-time Super Bowl champion who spent 14 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, finished his career with 1,000 receptions, 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns.

During a stellar 2023 campaign, St. Brown caught a career-high 119 passes for 1,515 yards with 10 touchdowns while averaging 12.7 yards per reception. He also took home First-Team All-Pro honors for the first time in his career.

“Amon-Ra and Jared Goff do a great job of lining it up each and every Sunday,” Lake explained. “The biggest thing about him is that he’s smart, too. He’s really smart. He understands his offense, and how the defense is going to attack him. He’s stronger than you think, and has a lot more speed than you would think.”

Few people are more familiar with what makes St. Brown a special talent than Lake, who lined up across from him in practice during their time together at Mater Dei High School in Anaheim, California, and went on to square off against him in some epic UCLA vs. USC battles in college.

St. Brown, though, got the latest laugh when the Lions dispatched Lake’s Rams in the NFC Divisional game. St. Brown caught 7 of 9 targets in the postseason matchup for 110 yards, including a 30-yard strike from Goff.

“I think the matchup I liked most [so far in my career] was probably in the playoffs,” Lake revealed. “The couple of times I got to go up against my childhood and high school teammate, and college rival, Amon-Ra St. Brown. That was fun.

“Not only because we’ve trained together in the offseason, but we’ve gone against each other in college, obviously we went against each other in high school, but then to be on the big stage and kind of knowing his game a little bit, it was a lot of fun to go against him.”

Amon-Ra St. Brown Can Be Lions’ Centerpiece

The Lions, especially under general manager Brad Holmes have built a prolific supporting cast around Goff.

Veteran receiver Josh Reynolds has experienced a career renaissance in Detroit. Meanwhile, former first-round pick Jameson Williams has all the trappings of a receiver capable of taking the top off a defense, averaging 15.8 yards per reception through his first two seasons.

But, St. Brown might be the most complete receiver of the bunch.

Through his first three NFL seasons, St. Brown has caught 315 passes for 3,588 yards with 21 touchdowns.

Lake has squared off against St. Brown at every phase of his development and believes his best football is still in front of him.

“The biggest thing is, he’s really, really strong at the top of his routes,” Lake said. “When he’s getting out of his breaks. If you aren’t strong getting out of your breaks, you can kind of knock a receiver off. But, when you’re strong out of the top of your breaks, those throws are going to be seamless and on point. He’s money every time.”

What Is St. Brown’s Market Value?

For the first time in his career, St. Brown is eligible for a contract extension, after being chosen by the Lions in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL draft.

Having outperformed his rookie deal, St. Brown could be on the verge of cashing in.

According to Spotrac, St. Brown’s market value is projected to be approximately $26.3 million annually on a four-year deal.

If that’s the contract that the Lions and St. Brown agree to terms on, he would wind up as the fourth-highest-paid wide receiver in the sport and be in line to be the 25th-highest-paid player in the NFL.

Holmes and the Lions are currently projected to have $45.3 million in effective cap space this offseason, plenty of spending flexibility to ensure one of the franchise’s brightest stars doesn’t hit the market anytime soon.

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