Ole Miss wide receiver AJ Brown will significantly help whichever team selects him. Regardless of where he lands, what are NFL teams getting from Brown?
Ole Miss had a decent season in a rough SEC having finished with a 5-7 record. Those five wins came from a strong offense with three potential first-round candidates – wide receiver AJ Brown, offensive tackle Greg Little, and wide receiver D.K. Metcalf. Many people have placed Brown and Metcalf as the top two receivers in the 2019 NFL Draft while Little is mostly viewed as the second best offensive Alabama’s Jonah Williams.
In this film review, we will be taking a good look at Brown. We will look at his IQ, ability to get yards after catch, change of direction, speed, route running/separation, and how he fares one-on-one.
Intelligence Quotient (IQ)
Brown’s IQ may be one of the highest in this draft class. He played in the slot most of the time and seemed to find ways to get to the open spots in zones. Brown also took advantage of the weaknesses of whatever man who was covering him in a man to man defense. His IQ level may not be to that of Adam Thielen or Antonio Brown’s level quite yet, but he sure seems like he can read, learn, and adapt his routes in any coverage.
In many of Brown’s routes, he was able to read the defense’s coverage and run underneath with simple slants, ins, and posts to get a decent amount of yards. Overall, the IQ is a big part of Brown’ game and should be apparent when he slips into the slot for any team in the NFL.
Yards After Catch (YAC)
Brown comes into the draft at 6 feet 1 inch and about 225 pounds. He is one of the many bigger receivers that are in this draft. Brown’s yards after catch may be one of his best attributes as his body build transfers over into his strength. Brown’s long strides, powerful lower body, and willingness to make contact makes him a wrecking force for safeties and outside linebackers trying to wrap him up and take him down.
In the video below, Brown starts with a bubble screen and builds up speed to attack his defender’s outside shoulder. The defender struggles to get the right angle and decides to dive at Brown’s ankles. Brown steps through the attempted tackle and breaks outside for a first down.
In the second part of the video, Brown takes a small curl route and turns it into another first down. His size and width of his upper body allow him to shed off the arm tackles made by a couple of defenders. He then uses his long strides and hard cuts to throw defenders off for a moment to earn a few more yards until he is tackled.
Change of Direction
In this video, Brown decides to do an out route. The problem with it is that he runs a banana type out route shown with the red outline. The two blue circles as well, one shows a smooth curve while the other shows a hard cut. Due to Brown’s built, his ability to drop his hips and cut harder so he can make a better out route, shown with the yellow route, is tough for him.
This seems to be a slight weakness for Brown as he will need to work on flexibility and lowering the hips more if he wants to throw off defenders on his out routes in the slot. This will be one of a few things he will need to work on to make himself an elite receiver in the league.
Speed will also not quite be on Brown’s side. At 6’1″ and 225 pounds, the speed won’t be how Brown wins over defenders or the league. Brown won’t also be the slowest receiver in a receiver class built with size. With Brown out of the combine due to an injury, we will not see how fast he can run a 40-yard dash, but his projected 40 is a low 4.5.
Brown usually runs bubble screens or short routes inside 7 yards. With his average speed, it proves he can get into the secondary. He may also be able to defeat some linebackers on streaks in a 1 on 1, but he won’t be any John Ross or Tyreek Hill in his career. Overall, he has great speed for his size but is an average speed receiver. Possibly C+ speed compared to some of the fastest receivers.
Although Brown’s change of direction is not spectacular, his short route combos can be deadly. He is a physical receiver with decent footwork that allows him to get separation from his defender. In this video, Brown runs a curl and gives a slight push-off to open up space and get ready to turn and break a tackle. The ability to change pace and use his built to break open will be a plus for him.
This video is titled extra because he shows us a few things he is capable of. First, he squiggly lines that switch to a straight line represent his change of speed that slows the defender down. As a result, the defender does not have time to turn and keep his cushion with Brown. Brown proves his hands will be reliable as he makes a great over the shoulder catch. Upon doing so, he finishes with possession and a touchdown.
Overall, Brown has great traits for a bigger receiver. He will be close to a Juju Smith-Schuster type slot receiver. However, he won’t be equipped with as many traits off the bat. He needs simple tuning and perfecting some small things like reading defenses that every receiver will most likely need in this draft.