Kenny Golladay named Lions top draft steal in last five years

Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

Most fans of the Detroit Lions would probably agree that the draft selections made by the Motor City under previous general manager Bob Quinn have ultimately been underwhelming. While there have been a few bright spots, there have also been some major disappointments.

For every success story like Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow, there’s seems to be a bust like former cornerback Teez Tabor. Still, the success of the new regime in Detroit, including that of first-year general manager Brad Holmes, will be built in part upon some of the foundational pieces acquired during the Quinn era.

Players like left tackle Taylor Decker, running back D’Andre Swift, tight end T.J. Hockenson, plus cornerbacks Amani Oruwariye and Jeff Okudah all figure to play a role in the team’s potential resurgence under new management.

But arguably the best pick that Quinn and the previous regime made during his five-year run at the helm in Detroit was in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the young executive’s second season with the Lions. That player obviously being wide receiver Kenny Golladay.

Here’s what Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus wrote about the Lions’ selection of Golladay after naming him Detroit’s best draft decision of the past five years.

"“There’s not a lot for Detroit to hang their hat on over the past five drafts … Golladay, who was taken semi-early in the draft and plays a valuable position, is now easily their most valuable asset. Funny how that works. Three receivers from the 2017 draft were selected in the top 10, and Golladay has outperformed all of them.”"

Ironically, the touted best player acquired by the Lions over the past five years is scheduled to hit free agency later this month. Detroit could opt to use their franchise tag to retain the 27-year old wideout that led the NFL with 11-receiving touchdowns in 2019, earning his first Pro Bowl nod.

Keeping Golladay around to help kickstart the retooling in Motown by either signing him to a long-term deal or tagging him would seem wise. Especially considering the fact Detroit is set to lose all but one of their receivers who actually started a game for them last season to free agency. But complicating matters is the fact Golladay missed a whopping 11-games last season due to both a hamstring and hip injury.

After posting back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons, Golladay recorded a total of 20 receptions for 338 yards and two scores in 2020, the final year of his rookie deal. Despite the down season, the 6-foot-4, 214-pound deep threat is still projected to be one of the best free agents to hit the open market.

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It’s unclear exactly how the Detroit Lions’ new regime feels about Kenny Golladay and whether he’s in their future plans or not. But acquiring or holding on to Pro Bowl players who have yet to hit their athletic prime rather than parting ways with them would seem to be a sensible mandate to follow.