PFF numbers make a case for Amon-St. Brown as best slot receiver in the NFL

Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Not that there needed to be more evidence to prove it, but Pro Football Focus has tabbed Amon-Ra St. Brown among the best slot receivers in the NFL.

With 196 receptions over the last two seasons, Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown is some exclusive company with that kind of production over his first two seasons. With a 100-catch campaign last season (106 catches), he entered more rare air in Lions' history too.

Any way you slice it, even primarily as a slot receiver, St. Brown is among the best dozen or so wide receivers in the NFL right now. And as the Lions improved late last season and enter a 2023 season with high expectations, his national profile should be rising.

St. Brown wants to be more of a downfield threat this year. Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has heeded that call, as he hones things with an eye on keeping the Lions' offense rolling. But that won't take away from St. Brown's greatest strengths.

Is Amon-Ra St. Brown the best slot receiver in the NFL?

Braxton Howard of Pro Football Focus recently outlined the most productive slot receivers in the NFL from the 2022 season. To qualify, a receiver had to play more than half of his snaps in the slot last season, and get at least 50 targets. Among the 10, ranked by yards per route run last season, St. Brown landed second on the list.

St. Brown had an incredible breakout season in 2022, staving off the dreaded “sophomore slump.” Among the talented wideouts on this list, St. Brown had the highest receiving grade with a 90.4, which trailed only Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams.

With one of the lowest average depth of target figures in the league (6.7), St. Brown showed that he just needs the ball in his hands, as his 544 yards after catch ranked top 10 in the NFL."

Braxton Howard of Pro Football Focus

Last season, among the 10 listed, St. Brown actually matched the high mark of 2.4 yards per route run of Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp. As Howard pointed out, St. Brown backed that with the highest PFF receiving grade of the 10 on the slot receiver list and the third-highest receiving grade among all wide receivers last year (90.4).

The black mark here, such as there can be one, is St. Brown's low average depth of target (6.7 according to PFF, 6.3 according to Pro Football Reference last year). But if he gets more downfield looks, as he wants, that number will climb some and possibly unlock another level for the "Sun God" in his third season. As a pure slot receiver, he's already elite and possibly the overall best in the league right now.

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