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John Brown, Bruce Arians, and the New TY Hilton


John Brown, from Pittsburg State in Kansas, got drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the 3rd round of the NFL Draft. Prior to that, very few people knew he was. Rotoviz writer Matt Freedman and I noticed him before the draft, although admittedly, Matt is a much larger fan than I. So large, in fact, that the Rotoviz writers received this email from Freedman right after the draft.

Speaking of the Oracle striking again, can someone — since I don’t have the time — please write a killer piece on John Brown, or as I’ve called him for months, “The Discount Tavon Austin” — in the dead of night I sometimes secretly refer to him as “The Exception” when I talk to myself about life — and when you write on him can you mention that I wrote about him before anyone else did (“30 WRs No One is Talking About“), that I said early on I could see him sliding into the 3rd round TY Hilton-style, that Hilton’s pseudo-drafter (Arians, the Wide Receiver Whisperer)  — a dude I basically worship — is the guy who decided Brown is the new TY, that after the combine I called Brown my favorite sleeper of the 2014 draft, that I was insanely, almost unjustifiably, high on him in the RotoViz Composite Rankings — you could even go back into the Google Doc and use the summary I wrote then explaining why he was awesome — and then you could mention that I relentlessly pimped John Brown on two separate podcasts after the combine even though no one was still talking about him — and perhaps maybe instead of writing all of that you could just quote this very paragraph so that everyone can see what an ass the Oracle really is: Be sure to include the “Sent from my iPhone” and maybe let people know the time I wrote this email, so that they’ll all know that I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, “I simply must tell someone how awesome I am a la Ron Burgundy before I can go back to sleep” — and by the way, this won’t mean anything to RotoViz readers — but it will mean something to you: I just bought a house without being mind whipped by the nameless nemesis. Suck it, Colorado. Suck it long, and suck it hard.

As you can imagine, reading that e-mail made me1 want to dig a little deeper into a player who drew curiosity from a Market Share perspective (completely dominated) but was undersized, and played against inferior competition. So, lets test Matt’s ‘discount Tavon Austin’ theorem.

Year Name College Height (in) Weight (lbs) 40 Yard Bench Press Vert Leap (in) Broad Jump (in) Shuttle 3Cone
2014 John Brown Pittsburg State 70 179 4.34 8 36.5 117 4.12 6.91
2013 Tavon Austin West Virginia 69 174 4.34 14 32 120 4.01 N/A

As usual, The Oracle nailed that one. Brown has an inch and 5 pounds on Tavon, is just as fast, had a better vert and at the very least has equivalent agility. Therefore, the Cardinals already got a discount on Brown, based on the price that the Rams paid for Tavon; but if Brown can’t play, then it’s probably not a very good pick. So let’s compare what they did on the field their final seasons.

 Player Rec Rec Yds Yards Per Catch Rec TD DR Rush Att Rush Yds Rush Avg Rush TD Kick Return AVG Punt Return AVG Return TD’s
Austin 114 1289 11.3 12 28 72 643 8.9 3 25.4 11 2
Brown 61 1198 19.6 14 42 17 100 5.9 2 32.4 11.5 1

Brown ticks off every single box you want from a small school prospect on this list. Despite his small stature, he scored a buttload of touchdowns, averaged almost 20 yards per reception, took the ball roughly 30 yards every time he returned a kick and basically wreaked havoc every time he got to touch the ball. There is no winning with Tavon Austin truthers, but I will say this: he wasn’t as good as you thought he was. At the very least, we have some very solid evidence for Freedman’s thesis that Brown is Tavon at a greatly reduced cost.

“Caution, Sir! I am eternally tired of hearing that word caution. It is nothing but the word of cowardice!”- John Brown (not the small school prospect)

There is some sort of joke or analogy to be made about the John Brown being from Kansas and this John Brown being from Kansas, but I’m not intelligent enough to make it (Freedman really should be writing this article). Some of this information seems counter-intuitive. In general, Rotovizians are not very high on Tavon Austin. A large reason for that, however, is price. The Rams took Tavon with the 8th pick in the NFL draft, a massive overdrafting of a player with a measly .28 DR. To acquire him in a regular dynasty league, you probably had to spend a 1.01 on him. Brown, on the other hand, comes with none of those stipulations. No one watched him in college, so there is no sentimental over-drafting going on, and he has a name that will make it easy for dynasty drafters to forget he exists.

If we take a look at the composite Rotoviz rookie ranks, I see a lot of really meh WR names ahead of Brown. For example, I think this analysis would suggest that Brown is a much superior prospect to Dri Archer, who we ranked ahead of Brown. Based off production, I would actually think Brown might have a larger NFL impact than Martavis Bryant, who just never really produced in college despite having all of the physical tools us Vizians typically look for.

John Brown is not a prospect to approach with caution. If your league has 4 rounds of rookie draft and your leaguemates aren’t RV subscribers, you’ll probably be able to snag him as a 4th rounder or even an UDFA. We’ve been hearing how deep this class is for months and months and now that we are here, we’re seeing that it is a reality. I’d much rather roster Brown than some sort of roster clogger like Earl Bennett. In fact, with cost involved, I think I’d rather roster Brown than Tavon.

Damn, The Oracle just talked me into liking a small WR.

  1. question Freedman’s sanity  (back)

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