A.J. Brown was one of the top-10 returning wide receivers in college football by Dominator Rating, which underscores how important he was to Ole Miss’s offense. At 6 feet 1 inch and 230 pounds, Brown looks like he could play as a Z-receiver in the NFL. Brown is garnering hype as one of the top-5 WRs in this draft class. Let’s take a look at his prospect profile and see if the production matches the hype.
Brown played in every game as a true freshman, catching 29 balls for 412 yards and two touchdowns. Brown may not have done much as a true freshman, but keep in mind he was competing with Evan Engram for targets.
With Engram in the NFL, Brown took over the top spot in Ole Miss’ offense and led the Rebels in every receiving category. As a sophomore Brown posted 1,252 receiving yards and broke the Ole Miss record for single-season receiving yards. Additionally, Brown led all Rebels players with 11 touchdowns, tying the single-season school record for receiving touchdowns. It should come as no surprise that Brown was one of 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award. Most importantly, Brown posted a breakout season at 20.5 years old, a strong indicator for his future success in the NFL.
One of the knocks against Brown as a sophomore was his inability to post big numbers against other SEC competition. He registered only seven receptions and 93 total yards against Alabama, LSU, and Arkansas, and bullied inferior teams. It was a different story in Brown’s junior year when he posted a 19-170-0 line against the three aforementioned teams.
Additionally, Brown posted 35-670-2 after D.K. Metcalf was forced to miss the rest of the season with a neck injury. It’s not like Brown’s production was muted when Metcalf was in the lineup. He posted a 50-650-4 line when playing alongside Metcalf in 2018.
NFL Draft Prospects
With multiple impressive seasons under his belt, Brown is garnering hype as a potential second-round draft pick. Brown’s playing style has been compared favorably with that of Jarvis Landry and JuJu-Smith Schuster.
Despite playing alongside Metcalf and DaMarkus Lodge, Brown led all SEC players in receiving yards for two seasons in a row. Additionally, Brown grades out quite well if we utilize Kevin Cole’s prospect regression tree.
Most importantly, Brown declared early for the NFL Draft. Blair Andrews has shown that WRs who declare early for the draft typically have a greater likelihood for fantasy success compared to their counterparts who use all their college eligibility.
Unfortunately Brown will turn 22 before he plays a snap in the NFL, which is a bit of a red flag. Blair Andrews has shown that younger rookies have a greater chance of fantasy success, all else equal.
Brown’s young breakout age coupled with his prolific production history1 should offset any age-related concerns. Additionally, Brown’s early declare is another positive check mark for his NFL prospects going forward. We will learn more about Brown’s athleticism once he participates in the NFL combine. A strong showing at the NFL combine should propel Brown’s draft stock higher and he could go as a late first-round pick.
- despite playing alongside two other NFL caliber WR draft prospects (back)