A.J. Brown: Fantasy Scouting Report
In a class loaded with wide receivers, A.J. Brown is not generating enough hype. Arguably the most talented receiver in the class, Brown seems destined for fantasy success.
Height: 6’0 1/2”
Weight: 226 lbs
D.O.B: 07/30/1997 (age 21)
Arthur James Brown is a 6’0 1/2”, 226 lbs receiver from Ole Miss. Brown had multiple offers in addition to Mississippi’s, including Alabama, Mississippi State, and Ohio State. Like a few prospects in this class, Brown chose to stay in-state and chose Ole Miss. Brown had a quiet freshman season with tight end Evan Engram leading the team in receiving. He would then explode as a sophomore for 75 receptions, 1,252 yards, and 11 touchdowns. Brown followed that up with a potent 85 receptions, 1,320 yards, and six touchdowns as a junior. What makes his numbers all the more impressive is that he did this as a member of the famed Nasty Wideouts or NWO. Brown played with a player some think is the top receiver in the 2019 class in D.K. Metcalf and a day two or three pick in DaMarkus Lodge.
A.J. Brown is a do it all receiver. He can win both on the outside and in the slot. His 3.01 yards per route run placed him top-20 in the nation. This is all the more impressive when one considers he played with a late day three selection at best in Jordan Ta’amu at quarterback. Brown is an explosive wide receiver who ranked fifth in the nation with 33 plays of over 20 yards. A crisp route runner who utilizes good stem in his routes, Brown got open at will at the college level. He has running back-like open field skills, something that will allow him to dominate on all four levels as a pro. Brown is an asset as a run blocker and should see a large snap share from day one.
This play shows off some of Brown’s big-play ability due to his yards after the catch skills. He beats his man to the sideline after the catch before accelerating and cutting to the inside. Brown averaged 7.1 yards after the catch per reception in 2018. He takes a six-yard pass an extra 79 yards to the house.
Brown shows off his great hands and body control on this play. He attacks the ball at its high point and rises up over the defender to haul this one in. Plays like this should be key evaluation tools for those who think Brown is exclusively a slot receiver. He played out wide in two-receiver sets at Ole Miss. Brown sported a 73% catch rate in 2018, after a 78.1% rate in 2017.
This play by A.J Brown highlights his speed, route running, and sideline awareness. Brown extends his route on the broken play, creating the separation needed to give his pressured QB a large enough window. #NFLDraft #NFLDraftProspects #DraftTwitter pic.twitter.com/TrSOiIGYD5
— Raju Byfield (@FantasyContext) March 9, 2019
In this play, Brown shows off both his sideline awareness and his ability to stay open on broken plays. This is a skill that will serve him very well in the NFL, and immediately endear him to both his quarterback and coaches.
This play highlights A.J. Brown's game speed and open field ability. Our top ranked wide receiver heading into the NFL Draft, Brown has the best combination of dynasty upside and floor in the draft class. #NFLDraft #NFLDraft2019 pic.twitter.com/AWKbmr0R9C
— WinMyFantasyLeague (@fantasysportdoc) March 9, 2019
This play shows off Brown’s open field ability and game speed. He tested with 4.49 wheels at the NFL combine and he looks even faster on this play. Brown is a terror with the ball in his hands and plays like this exemplify how dynamic of a weapon he can be in a creative offensive attack. Brown is expected to be one of the annual leaders in average yards of separation, yards after catch, and yards after catch above separation.
This play highlights Brown’s running back like strength and contact balance. A rocked up 226 lbs., he is more physically imposing than many running backs in the NFL. He breaks multiple tackles on this play and takes the ball an extra 14 yards before being taken down.
The comparison most often bandied about in relation to Brown is Pittsburgh Steelers star receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Brown measured in at 6’0 1/2” and 226 lbs., at the combine making him a half an inch shorter but eleven pounds heavier than JuJu. Despite the increased bulk, Brown ran a faster 40.
As you can see Brown tested as a superior athlete to JuJu Smith-Schuster. While this does not mean Brown will have a bigger NFL impact than JuJu it does go to show his upside if he lands on the right team. Let’s take a look at their sophomore seasons.
JuJu Smith-Schuster: 6.35 receptions per game, 103.85 yards, 16.3 yards per reception, 1 TD per game
A.J. Brown: 6.81 receptions per game, 113.81 yards, 16.7 yards per reception, 1 TD per game
Brown was the more successful college player despite playing in the harder conference with substantially worse options at quarterback. As alluded to above, JuJu has had the benefit of playing with a future hall of famer in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the NFL. Landing spot will be key for Brown, but he is one of the few prospects in this class that projects as a 100 reception receiver.
As with all prospects, Brown’s true ceiling will be tied to his NFL landing spot. Brown is unique in the fact that he can dominate inside or out, making him less depth chart dependent to find success at the next level. I currently have Brown as the number one dynasty rookie receiver and the number two overall receiver on my big board due to his talent and second to none combination of upside and floor. One of the few receivers with legit round one talent in a loaded overall draft class, Brown should be drafted to contribute out of the gate.
As mentioned above, Brown is one of the only receivers in this class that projects as a 100-reception receiver. Brown will in all likelihood become an immediate dynasty WR2 after he is drafted. He has the upside to enter the WR1 conversation after year one. If you are intent on landing Brown in your upcoming rookie drafts, you will likely have to snare a pick between 1.01-1.08. He went third overall in a recent post-combine mock draft I participated in and went second overall in our own FFStatistics mock that will be published in the coming days. Brown is worth surrendering the assets to acquire an early pick. He may just be fantasy’s next big thing.