Welcome to the 20/20 series. As part of our continued Dynasty Scouts coverage and in preparation for the NFL Combine, we will be profiling 20 of the top incoming rookies of the class of 2019 by giving you 20 facts you must know.
1.) Player name – A.J. Brown
2.) College – Ole Miss Rebels
3.) Height/Weight – 6’1’’, 225 lbs
4.) Birthdate – 6/30/1997 (21 years old)
5.) Class – Junior
6.) Basic college stats – 2016 (freshman): 29 receptions for 412 yards and two touchdowns. 2017 (sophomore): 75 receptions for 1,252 yards and 11 touchdowns. 2018 (junior): 85 receptions for 1,320 yards and six touchdowns.
7.) NFL Draft round projection – While many cannot seem to agree who the best wide receivers are in the 2019 class, most agree it is likely at least one or two are selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. A.J. Brown could possibly be one. He figures to be selected in the second round with a possibility of sneaking into the first.
8.) Current NFL comparison – A.J. Brown is a big, physical receiver who has great ball skills. His play-style reminds me of a combination of Anquan Boldin and Jarvis Landry. All three receivers excel/excelled in the slot due to their physicality but can/could also play outside as well. Brown’s size is more comparable to Boldin’s, but all three players are/were physical players who do a great job of creating yards after contact.
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9.) Best possible destination – Taking a look at teams picking in the back half of the first round of the NFL draft, my favorite landing spot for Brown would be the Tennessee Titans. Corey Davis is the alpha in town, which would allow Brown to slide into a secondary role I believe suits his skill set best. Imagine Taywan Taylor taking the top of defenses to give Davis and Brown space to work underneath. Hopefully Tennessee can find some continuity at the offensive coordinator position and get quarterback Marcus Mariota healthy. It is time for them to start realizing their potential.
Other potential landing spots I like are the Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers.
10.) Worst possible destination – I would not want to see Brown land on the Baltimore Ravens. I do not believe Brown’s skill set would mesh well with quarterback Lamar Jackson and how it appears the Ravens want to shape their offense. Brown would be better suited with more of a pocket passer who gets the ball out quickly.
11.) Best current skill – A few of my favorite skills Brown has are his hands, play strength, and elusiveness after the catch. First off, he is a natural catcher of the football. His baseball background probably helped. Instead of catching with his body like some other receivers in this class, he consistently shows great extension at the catch point and relies on his hands to make the play.
He is also dangerous in the open field. His thick build and elusiveness after the catch make him very tough to take down, even though he is not blowing by defenders with elite speed or quickness. The play he makes below is one of my favorite juke moves I have seen out of a receiver in a long time.
12.) Skill that needs to be improved – Separation quickness is one of the areas Brown struggles with a bit. However, he excels at reading defenders, which allows him to get open despite his lack of quickness. I will be curious to see how he tests at the combine, specifically the three-cone drill.
13.) Past/current rookie ADP – As of writing this, Brown currently sits as the sixth overall (fifth receiver) in our rookie rankings. As is the case with many in this class, his standard deviation is large. A couple rankers have Brown in their top two while a couple others have him outside their first round. The Combine results and landing spots will likely bring these rankings closer together.
14.) Projected dynasty value – Landing spot and combine results are going to be key for A.J. Brown and most other receivers in this class. In the right spot, Brown might be the first pick in a lot of dynasty rookie drafts. Poor results at the Combine or landing in a bad situation might see him slip to the end of the first round in dynasty rookie drafts.
Looking at historical rookie data, I imagine Brown would be a round four or five startup pick if he creeps toward the top of rookie drafts. If he fell to the back half of the first round in rookie drafts, he would likely be selected several rounds later in startups.
15.) Recruiting profile – According to 247Sports, Brown was a four-star recruit with a 0.9803 composite score. This put him as the fourth receiver in his recruiting class. He was heavily recruited out of high school, receiving offers from 11 schools including Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, and USC. He ultimately chose Ole Miss over his home-town team, Mississippi State. Not only a talented high school football recruit; Brown also starred in baseball and was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 19th round of the MLB Draft.
16.) High school production – 2013 (sophomore): 18 receptions for 493 yards and six touchdowns. 2014 (junior): 52 receptions for 1,019 yards and 16 touchdowns. 2015 (senior): 83 receptions for 1,371 yards and 13 touchdowns.
17.) Not just a slot guy – The talk heading into this past season was that Brown was just a slot guy who could not beat press coverage on the outside. While that was the case for most of his first two seasons at Ole Miss, it changed this past year. When teammate D.K. Metcalf went down due to his neck injury, Brown was finally used in different alignments and actually excelled in them. Do not let the “slot only” narrative overshadow the success he actually had outside the numbers this year.
His 2,984 total receiving yards in his college career were the most by any Ole Miss receiver in school history. Laquon Treadwell, Donte Moncrief, and Evan Engram were all near the top as well but none could match Brown’s total.
19.) Baseball player – We have all heard about Kyler Murray’s baseball career, but did you know A.J. Brown was also selected in the MLB Draft? He signed with the San Diego Padres back in 2016 after being selected in the 19th round. He has even played some minor league baseball over the past few years.
20.) Tough Decisions – Brown is not afraid to make difficult decisions. While most would have stayed home to play at Mississippi State, Brown chose rival Ole Miss and received a great amount of backlash from his hometown.
Just like he came in, Brown made another tough decision on this way out. While quarterback Shea Patterson left the Rebels amid NCAA sanctions, all eyes turned to A.J. Brown to see what he would do. He walked off the field after the Mississippi State game that year and told wide receivers coach Jacob Peeler he was staying to “do this together.”
I try to find out as much as I can about a prospect’s character and work ethic with the limited knowledge and insight we have available to us. It appears Brown is a loyal teammate who is not afraid to step up and be a leader. Those are the traits I like seeing in a player.
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