By: Aj Flores (Twitter: @ChxckenAlfredo)
Player Analysis: Kenny Golladay
With the 32nd pick in the 3rd round, the Detroit Lions selected Kenny Golladay; a prospect originally from St. Rita of Cascia High School on Chicago’s south side. He garnered first team Blue Division All-Catholic League honors as a senior after catching 44 passes for 640 yards and 9 TDs. After his high school playing days were over, Kenny committed to the University of North Dakota (Fighting Hawks), where he played from 2012-2013, and then transferred from UND to the University of Northern Illinois (NCAA). He was a redshirt in 2014 and played his final two seasons of college football in 2015-2016.
Going into North Dakota as a true freshman, Kenny’s numbers were what you would expect from a player used in a reserve wide receiver role. Golladay appeared in 10 games, where he was able to post 30 catches on 44 targets (numbers may not be exact as some games did not have a play-by-play log) for a 68% catch rate. With those 30 catches, Golladay was able to put up 429 yards (14.3 yards per reception) and 1 TD. In the 10 games he played, North Dakota threw the ball 393 times, with the QB targeting Kenny 11.2% of the time. Even though his team lost, Golladay had his best receiving game against #4 Montana, catching 4 out of 5 passes for 83 yards. He was able to avoid any negative plays that season by not turning the ball over or committing a penalty.
Receiving line: 30-429-1 (14.3 YPR)
Following up his freshman season, Golladay saw a sizable increase in action. Golladay played in 11 games, where he caught 69 passes on 126 targets for 884 yards and 8 touchdowns. Seeing a large increase in action (from 11.2% to 29.3% target share) Kenny’s catch rate dropped 13% (from 68% to 55%), as did his yards per reception (14.3 to 12.8). Along with the decrease in catch rate and yards per reception, Golladay lost a fumble and also committed 1 penalty for 5 yards (false start). Golladay’s best game of the season came against #14 Northern Arizona, where was able to record a career high (and school record) 16 receptions (25 targets) for 122 yards, with another career high and school record 4 touchdowns. Another bright spot for Kenny was as a punt returner, where he had a 64 yard return for a touchdown against Valparaiso in the beginning of the season. Golladay also saw some time as a rusher, but was it was very limited as it totaled 4 rushes for 11 yards.
Receiving line: 69-884-8 (12.8 YPR)
Rushing line: 4-11-0 (2.8 YPC)
Return line: 10-126-1 (12.6 YPR)
After transferring out of North Dakota to Northern Illinois (he left when the previous coaching staff was fired after a 3-8 season), Golladay spent all of 2014 as a redshirt due to the rules for transfer students. He made a big impression in practices while also earning NIU Offensive Scout Team Player of the Week for the Western Michigan game. Kenny took full advantage of his redshirt year, and “hit the ground running” with the Huskies where he posted a season high 9 catches and a career high 213 yards (23.7 YPR) against Nevada-Las Vegas in his debut game.
On the season, Kenny caught 73 passes on 128 targets which garnered only a 57% catch rate. On only 4 more caught passes and 2 more targets than the previous season (2013), Kenny was able to improve his yards per reception from 12.8 to 15.5 (career high). With the higher number in yards per reception, Golladay was able to total 1,129 yards, 245 yards more than his ’13 season. While seeing 31.68% of the target share, Golladay lost two fumbles on the year, but committed zero penalties. Kenny grabbed 10 touchdowns including a hot streak where he scored in 6 of 7 contests.
In a game at Buffalo, he grabbed 6 of his 9 targets for 141 yards (23.5 YPR) and 2 touchdowns, one of which was a career long 68-yard catch-and-run score. Golladay was able to catch at least 1 pass in all 14 games, and caught 5 passes or more in 9 contests. Kenny was minimally used as a rusher again, where he got the rock 9 times, totaling 14 yards (1.56 YPC) and scoring once against Ball State. For the season, Golladay made Second Team All-MAC selection and was placed on Biletnikoff Award Watch List. Another note-worthy stat, Kenny finished with the most receiving yards in a single season by any NIU football player since 2000, where Huskie great Justin McCareins totaled 1,168 yards.
Receiving line: 73-1,129-10 (15.5 YPR)
Rushing line: 9-14-1 (1.56 YPC)
In Kenny’s senior season, he managed to improve in all but two categories from the previous season. Northern Illinois only had 12 games that year, but Golladay managed to catch 14 more passes than the 2015 season (from 73 to 87) while seeing 6 more targets (128 to 134). Some more increases Golladay saw were his target share percent up to 33.5% (from 31.68%), catch rate up to 65% (from 57%), and receiving yards to 1,156 (from 1,129). Kenny’s touchdowns per game remained the same from the two previous seasons at 0.7, but his yards per reception took a dip to 13.3 yards. This season, similar to the last, Golladay had two hiccups, one of which was another lost fumble, the fourth of his collegiate career, and an offensive pass interference call for 15 more yards, giving him 2 for 20 yards between the two schools.
Golladay saw some more minimal action rushing the ball, totaling 20 carries for 192 yards and 2 touchdowns. His best rushing game came in the first game of the season where he managed 6 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown against Wyoming. Kenny’s best receiving game came against Ball State, where he posted 13-184-2, but caught a season high 14 passes against Toledo. Golladay managed to snag at least 4 passes in every game during the season, and in 3 games caught at least 10 or more. Kenny was a First team All-MAC selection, while leading the Huskies in receiving, to become the first player in school history to record back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Kenny was selected to play in the East-West Shrine Bowl All-Star game, but he was unable to participate due to an elbow injury he sustained in a game against Kent State.
Receiving line: 87-1156-8 (13.3 YPR)
Rushing line: 20-192-2 (9.6 YPC)
There is one player I find Golladay is comparable to, and his name is Brandon Marshall.
Marvin Jones was brought in last season to be the #2 to Golden Tate after Calvin Johnson retired, which started off great for Jones by posting 33-619-4 (18.8 YPR with a 63% catch rate), but unfortunately he did little to nothing over the next 8 games posting 22-311-0 (14.1 YPR with a 43% catch rate). The Lions brought in Jared Abbrederis (before drafting Golladay) to go along with Marvin Jones and T.J. Jones behind Tate. Marvin carries most of the weight here between these guys but their totals along with their averages are far from pretty. Combined the trio have played in 85 games, caught 215 passes (2.5 receptions per game), gaining 3,003 yards (35.3 yards per game), and scoring 20 touchdowns (0.2 touchdowns per game). These are not averages you would want from your #2 wide receiver. Along with these awful averages from the current supporting cast, the Lions lost 120 targets, 81 receptions, 899 yards, and 9 touchdowns this offseason.
It may take Golladay some time to get used to the new play book, but there is plenty of room for targets here in Detroit, where 4 guys saw 80+ targets, one of whom is currently a free agent. Golladay has some qualities that will work in his favor as he tries to take over the #2 role or at least get looks in the red zone. He catches the ball away from his body, good hand fighter to create vertical separation, wide catch radius, can go up and get it or dig out the low ball, shows solid instinct in space. As with any prospect out of the draft, none come fully polished. Some of the things he needs to work on are route strength, as he can be knocked off path and out of timing with his QB, sideline awareness to give his QB more room to work with, and more aggression with his run blocking. Golladay couldn’t have landed in a better position. Stafford loves tall receivers and adored Megatron. Can Kenny put it all together and be the next guy Stafford counts on in big time situations?