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2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: A.J Brown, Ole Miss

2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: A.J Brown, Ole Miss
Davis Mattek March 7, 2019 4:11PM EDT

A.J Brown 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile Scouting Report

For all of the hype that Ole Miss wide receiver D.K Metcalf is receiving from the dynasty fantasy football community, he might not have even been the best wide receiver on his team in college. Brown had a reasonably good performance at the combine and in their time together at Ole Miss, Brown was actually the better player. He doesn’t have 1.8% body fat and isn’t drawing Calvin Johnson comparisons, but A.J Brown is a legit WR prospect in his own right.

A.J Brown College Production

One of the most positive indicators that can exist for a wide receiver prospect is that they played as a true freshman in a Power Five conference. This was true for Brown. While he had to share targets with future NFL draft pick Evan Engram, he still had 29 receptions for 412 yards and two touchdowns while catching passes from Chad Kelly. As a sophomore however, Brown completely dominated the team in all receiving categories.

While D.K Metcalf played in 12 games, A.J Brown was the player that looked like a first-round draft pick in 2017. Brown had 75 receptions, 1,252 yards and 11 touchdowns all of which lead the Ole Miss Rebels. He was one of the top-10 finalists for the Bilitnekoff Award which is given to the best wide receiver in the country every year in the NCAA. Furthermore, Brown performed this season at 20 years old which would give him an elite breakout age. Breakout age is one of the biggest contributing factors to future success at the NFL level, per research conducted by RotoExperts’ own Anthony Amico.

With D.K Metcalf again sidelined by injury in 2018, A.J Brown shouldered the load for the Rebels passing game. He caught 85 passes, 20 more than the next closest player on the team while accruing 1,320 receiving yards and a disappointing total of six touchdowns. Those six touchdowns, however, still lead the team. At this point, you might be wondering why A.J Brown is not getting more hype. Why would he not be the obvious pick over D.K Metcalf for one of the best wide receivers in the class? Brown had 35 receptions, 670 yards and two touchdowns in games that Metcalf missed and 50 receptions in the games that Metcalf played. At least to me, it seems that Brown played better than Metcalf in college.

The thing that makes A.J Brown particularly appealing to me is that I think he will have a 2018-Tyler Boyd level of effect on a passing offense. At 6’0″ and 226 pounds, he projects as a powerful slot wide receiver. His route running was one of his best attributes at Ole Miss and the age at which he showed an understanding of the concepts needed to accomplish those routes is a positive signal for future development. Running a 4.49 40 at 226 pounds is a feat in and of itself though I think that maybe one of the reasons he did not do the agility drills at the combine was that he might not have been very good at them. The Draft Network notes that Brown has exceptional contested catch ability which matters for a shorter player.

A.J Brown Final Verdict

Brown played alongside two other wide receivers that seem ready to play in the NFL, with DeMarkus Lodge and D.K Metcalf. The fact that Brown was able to produce on a losing college team alongside two other NFL prospects is impressive. Adding in that he did so at a startlingly young age (he won’t turn 22 for another six months) makes it even more so. His final season Dominator Rating of 32.6% and Breakout Age of 20.2 put him in a hallowed tier of prospects. It is in play that Brown is a first round NFL draft pick, though a second or third round selection seems more likely. N’Keal Harry and Hakeem Butler were just too good at the combine to be ignored.

There are plenty of teams that could the services of someone like A.J Brown. Perhaps the most interesting to me is the New England Patriots. Adding the versatility of a player who can play at the X or in the slot is huge for Josh McDaniels and his offense. The team will likely be without Rob Gronkowski soon enough and Julian Edelman is now 32  years old. Instead of trading their first round pick for Antonio Brown, I can see A.J Brown fitting nicely on the Patriots roster.

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