No one thought a whole lot of Kenny Golladay when the Lions took him in the third round of the 2017 draft. Then Golladay showed up, and Golden Tate thought even less.
After watching his former teammate torch another defense on Sunday in the Lions' win over the Giants, Tate couldn't help but smile.
"I’m gonna be honest," Tate said. "When he first got there, I was like, this dude is not very good. But he quickly, quickly changed that. His work ethic, he showed up wanting to be good. His first year he showed some glimpses of being amazing, his second year he did amazing, and third year he’s just thriving. It’s been fun to watch him grow."
Tate's vantage point is different these days, shifted by last season's trade. But he had a front row seat to Golladay's development for the first several months of his career, and he's not surprised where his career is headed. That initial impression wore off pretty quickly.
"By training camp," Tate said. "And that first game, didn't he do something crazy?"
Yep, two touchdowns in a Lions' win, including one that made highlight reels around the NFL.
"Diving catch," Tate recalled. "I was like, okay, this guy is the real deal."
If there was an appeal to Golladay when he arrived, a little-known receiver from Northern Illinois, it was the combination of his speed and size. It didn't take him to long to flash his hands and flex his muscle. He put it all on display Sunday, catching six passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns, his third 100-yard game of the season. His six touchdowns are tied for the NFL lead.
Golladay took a major step last season, producing down the stretch in an offense decimated by injuries. If that was an indication he could be the Lions' No. 1 receiver, his performance this year has been proof.
Best receiver on his team?
"That guy can be the best receiver in the league," said Tate. "He’s had all the talent in the world. His route running’s getting better each year, his knowledge of the game is getting better each game, I think that offense is putting him in a position to succeed. Obviously he can run by you, he can go up and get the ball."
Golladay climbed the the ladder on his first touchdown, out-muscling rookie cornerback Deandre Baker on a lob from Matthew Stafford. And he blew past the defense on his second one, leaving veteran safety Antoine Bethea in the dust as he hauled in a 41-yard flea-flicker to the delight of the Ford Field crowd. He added two key third-down conversions, one for 16 yards, another for 25. He'll want back the fumble he committed late in the game, but by then his work was done.
Tate, no stranger to big plays, watched in appreciation from the opposite sideline.
"He made some tremendous catches. There were some passes that were kind of behind him, he was able to stop, open his hips and pluck them with his hands. That (first) touchdown, to be able to have the body control and catch it kind of behind you is special. I thought our DB did a really good job of recovering, but he just outfought him and made the play," Tate said. "It’s exciting to see him do so well, just unfortunately it was against us."
The Giants aren't Golladay's first victim this year, and they won't be his last. Golladay would never say it himself, but he's here to put the NFL on notice. His confidence shines through his play, and then it peaks through his words. He makes difficult plays so