Amon-Ra St. Brown was one of the best rookie wide receivers in the NFL in 2021, yet was able to take his game up a notch in year two. St. Brown caught 106 passes for 1,161 yards and six touchdowns in 2022, becoming just the third player in Lions history aged 23 or younger to have a 1,000-yard season.
Not only is St. Brown the youngest player in franchise history to produce a 100-catch season, but he's just the third player in NFL history to log at least 90 catches in the first two seasons of their career -- joining Michael Thomas and Odell Beckham Jr. He also tied the NFL record for longest streak of eight-straight games with eight-or-more receptions in year two, establishing himself as one of the top wideouts in the league.
In a one-on-one interview with CBS Sports, St. Brown discussed the Lions' offseason and expectations for 2023. He also breaks down the best cornerbacks he faced and the new role he wants to take on this year.
From year one to year two, where did you think you improved the most as a football player?
St. Brown: "I can't exactly pinpoint where I got better, but just being more comfortable. Knowing what to expect week in and week out being in the league. Understanding defenses a little bit more and how to attack them. What the quarterback is seeing. I was just more comfortable in handling those things."
You might have heard the talk that the Lions could move on from Jared Goff and eventually draft his replacement ( ). Can you give me your endorsement why Goff should be the long-term quarterback?
St. Brown: "I love Jared as a quarterback. That's my guy. He's the only quarterback that I know in this league, and in my opinion he's one of the best. He communicates really well with us. He tells us what he likes, what he wants to see from us. We also can tell him what we like. He listens to us.
"As a receiver, it's easy to get along with a guy like that. That's what I love about him. He communicates well and is super, super transparent. Obviously he throws an amazing ball for me -- and for everybody else, too."
What did you think of the Lions adding David Montgomery?
St. Brown: "That was a huge pickup for us. My brother (Equanimeous St. Brown) was on the Bears, so I knew a little bit about him. Me, my brother, and David would actually play Call of Duty together -- and this was during the season still.
"My brother would always tell me David was crazy hard to tackle during practice. he does some crazy things during games. Facing him, I knew he was a great player. I watched his tape a little and he was super dynamic, not just coming out of the backfield and getting the handoff but in the pass game.
"I'm super excited to watch him work and get to work with him. It's going to be a lot of fun. I think it adds another element of explosiveness to our offense."
Signing David Montgomery also meant parting ways with Jamaal Williams. He was one of the leaders in that locker room last year. Who do you feel can fill that void?
St. Brown: "Losing Jamaal is definitely going to hurt us. He was a beast last year. He was an awesome teammate and we all loved him, but at the end of the day we all understand it's a business. He understood that, too, and he had to do what was best for him. As teammates, we can't blame him for that.
"We're definitely gonna miss him. We have a lot of leaders on this team. I'm looking to become more of a leader next year and I like to lead by example. I'm not a huge vocal guy, but if I can give my teammates just a little bit more motivation, give them a little more work ethic. Whatever it is man, I'm here for it.
"I'm trying to lead by example."
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You've been working out with Jameson Williams this offseason. What have you liked about his game and how he's progressed so far?
St. Brown: "Jameson is gonna help us a lot next year. His speed is something you just can't teach and he loves the game. When he's out there, you can tell he loves playing. He didn't get to play too much obviously due to the ACL, but him getting a whole offseason under his belt, being able to train how he wants without the rehab, and getting to know the playbook more since he has more time to do that.
"I can't wait to see what he does for our offense. He's gonna be super, super explosive for us."
The Lions really improved their secondary this offseason. How talented do you think that unit can be next year?
St. Brown: "We can be really good. I mean, when you're adding that type of firepower -- you're adding it to be successful. Nothing less. I'm excited to see them get to work.
"It might take some time for them to understand how everyone plays. In the secondary, the unit has to play together, and so that's where the OTAs are really going to help them out. I can't wait to see what they do there.
"It's gonna be fun going up against them in practice. That's a very talented group."
What do you wanna see in the Lions new uniforms?
St. Brown: "We are getting new helmets this year. And I'm excited for them and the new uniforms, I'm here for it. I don't mind the uniforms we have now, but getting new uniforms is always exciting. I can't wait to see what they do with them."
Did the Lions tell you what the new helmet is gonna look like?
St. Brown: "They have not (laughing). They are gonna unveil that pretty soon, so I'm excited to see what they look like."
The NFC North feels like it's the Lions' division to lose. I know that's crazy saying that in Detroit, right? Is that the goal?
St. Brown: "Oh our goal is definitely to win the NFC North, nothing less. That was the goal last year, too, but we fell short. You go to the playoffs if you win the NFC North, so obviously we want that. We win the NFC North, we're in.
"Since I got to Detroit, we've talked about making the playoffs. Everyone is talking about it now, people are thinking we're gonna win it. Nothing is guaranteed in this league and we know that. Having that target on your back and being favored, it just makes winning the division that much harder.
"As a team, when we get together, I'm sure Dan Campbell is gonna touch on that. As players, we gotta understand (the expectation) since a lot of us have been there a while. We're gonna turn this whole thing around, which is why I'm so excited to get back together with these guys at OTAs."
Best quarterback you faced/seen?
St. Brown: "Oh man, that's a good question. Being on the offensive side of the ball and just witnessing these guys on the sideline -- Aaron Rodgers is one. I saw him twice a year and it was really special. Josh Allen was another one. There were so many. There's so many guys with talent in this league, but they were the two that stood out."
How about best cornerback you went up against?
St. Brown: "I played the Rams in my rookie year and they ran a lot of zone. I didn't get one target that game, but Jalen Ramsey -- going up against him was fun. Since teams do play a lot of zone, it's hard to see what cornerbacks stand out, especially since I'm in the slot a lot.
"Darius Slay was a very solid corner. I definitely remember that in Week 1. Sauce Gardner was another good one. I didn't get to go against Marlon Humphrey much in my rookie year, but just watching him on tape he was a strong, physical corner. Trevon Diggs was another one, great hands for a corner. They were the ones that stood out."
What about Slay? What was it about him that stood out?
St. Brown: "He's just a very smart corner. He's been in this league a long time, seen a lot of things. He doesn't let little moves, little deceiving things fool him. He's a smart corner. he's knows where his help is at. He understands leverage.
"Guys like that are always gonna be a good cover. He's very smart and can move pretty well, too."