Here is a potential replacement for Danny Amendola in the future. James Proche is a dynamic, explosive slot receiver in short spurts that projects as a high-end third option on any NFL offense. Sure, we already have the Lions selecting Chase Claypool, but Proche is much too talented to pass up with the 166th overall choice.
Proche is a precise route runner, commands excellent ball skills with tremendous overall potential. He’s produced back to back 1000-plus yard seasons. He’s spent five years with the SMU Mustangs; his first was a redshirt season.
During his junior year, he corralled 93 balls totaling 1199 yards and accumulated 12 touchdowns. He returned 20 punts totaling 165 yards for an average of 8.3 yards per return. That same season he also made 12 kick returns totaling 276 yards, suitable for a 21-yard average.
Proche stands at 5’11, not limiting him to a slot receiver, but I see that as his most effective role, along with being a reliable return man.
A couple of noticeable issues to note. Proche, at times, struggles to get a release against press coverage; his routes are not always crisp; he tends to bend away from the quarterback rather than working his way back to the football. He’s not the fastest receiver in the draft class, but his ability to make quick adjustments while the ball is in the air is a tremendous benefit.
He enjoys battling in man to man coverage, often able to snatch the football away from the defender with his sticky hands. He’s proved he can box out the smaller slot corners and break a tackle to gain extra yards.
He’s still a work in progress but has a high ceiling and could play a significant role with the Detroit Lions in 2021 after he receives some polishing. Detroit needs a plan beyond 2020, with Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola both expected to be elsewhere.