By: Will Burchfield
Third-round draft pick Kenny Golladay had himself quite the rookie season.
He snared two touchdowns in his debut, including a diving grab in the end zone that stole headlines across the league. He hauled in five catches of at least 40 yards, tied for seventh most in the NFL and second most among rookies. He stretched opposing defenses and gave the Lions a legitimate No. 3 wide receiver behind Golden Tate and Marvin Jones.
He also missed five games with a hamstring injury that lingered longer than anyone expected. The absence stunted his growth and suppressed his numbers. Golladay finished with 28 catches for 477 yards and three touchdowns — his 17 yards per catch was sixth best among qualifying players — a line that could have been significantly more impressive had he not missed almost a third of the season.
Lions general manager Bob Quinn is putting the onus on Golladay to take the necessary steps in the months ahead to avoid a similar scenario in 2018.
“Kenny had a solid rookie year. Missed some time in the middle of the season with the hamstring, kind of worked (his way) back. I think Kenny has a tremendous amount of upside. I think he really needs to have a great offseason this year to get his body to where it needs to be,” Quinn said at the scouting combine on Wednesday.
Golladay is a physical specimen, 6’4, 220 pounds and shredded with muscle. It’s clear he doesn’t slack in the weight room. But there’s a difference between working hard and working smart. Between building muscle and honing muscle. Golladay, 24, needs to learn what makes his body tick at maximum efficiency.
Then he needs come up with a plan to more keenly prepare himself for the rigors of an NFL season.
Fellow receiver Marvin Jones went through a similar process last offseason. He cut down on his upper-body workouts, particularly the bench press, and focused more on his legs. In training camp he immediately looked more explosive. Then he went out and had the best season of his career.
There were other factors to thank for Jones’ big year, most notably his burgeoning chemistry with Matthew Stafford, but Jones wasn’t shy in crediting his offseason work. Golladay may well be singing the same tune next season. It’s up to him to find the right notes.
“He has great potential and we’re looking forward to working with him,” Quinn said.