MAC coaches rave about Lions picks Golladay, Roberts

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

The coaches who saw him up-close in the fall are raving about the Lions’ third-round draft pick, wide receiver Kenny Golladay out of Northern Illinois.

John Bonamego, Central Michigan’s coach who previously was an assistant coach with the Lions, called Golladay the second-best receiver in the Mid-American Conference, behind Western Michigan’s first-round pick, Corey Davis.

“He’s got everything you want, excellent top-end speed, he’s been coached well, has size,” Bonamgeo said. “He’s a really, really good prospect, a good pickup.”

Golladay, a 6-foot-4, 194-pounder, played two seasons at Northern Illinois, racking up 1,129 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior and 1,156 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior, after playing two seasons at North Dakota.

Central Michigan kept him relatively in check both meetings, both Central Michigan victories.

“He’s got a lot of upside, he really does,” Bonamego said. “He walks in the room and looks like an NFL wide receiver.”

Golladay had a bit more success against Western Michigan, with 99 receiving yards in this year’s meeting, and 93 yards and a touchdown in last year’s meeting.

He left an impression on P.J. Fleck, then Western Michigan’s coach — and, a former Northern Illinois wide receiver himself.

“He’s one of the best receivers I’ve seen at 50-50 balls and he’s very aggressive,” said Fleck, who has an NFL background, as well, as a former receivers coach with the Buccaneers. “He positions himself very well, pre-catch.

“He’s not gonna be the fastest receiver on the team, but he can run, and he uses his speed efficiently. He’s a good route runner, a strong player and incredibly confident.”

Golladay was the first of two consecutive MAC picks by the Lions — and three overall.

Detroit drafted Toledo tight end Michael Roberts in the fourth round.

Interestingly, Fleck, now coach at Minnesota, didn’t remember much about him — even though he scored three touchdowns against Western Michigan in the regular-season finale in 2016. Fleck called him a “big, strong kid.”

Roberts, 6-4 and 261 pounds, caught Bonamego’s attention.

“Absolutely,” he said. “He’s a big, tall good, with good hands, and a big-time red-zone threat. I don’t know how many touchdowns he had, but it was a lot (16 in 2016), and the majority of those came in the red zone.

“I got a chance to watch him a little bit at the (NFL) Combine, and I thought he did very well there. He’s a nice weapon to have, especially when you get down in there tight in the red zone, and he’s a good blocker, as well.”

The Lions made nine draft picks, and three came out of the MAC, including defensive end Patrick O’Connor (Eastern Michigan) in the seventh round.