You might have heard that the 2019 NFL Draft is coming up and that the Buffalo Bills might get to pick a player or two. This offseason has been shaping up mostly offense as the Bills look to support the quarterback of the future, Josh Allen. Long-term weapons to pair with Allen could be in the works and that could include former Ole Miss Rebels wide receiver A.J. Brown.
A.J. Brown declared for the draft after his junior year at Mississippi and a solid three years of production. In his sophomore year he set a school record for receiving yards in a single game with 233. He also set another school record for most yards in a season with 1,252. The following year he broke his own record with 1,320 yards. Brown never had lower than 14.2 yards per reception, which came in his freshman year.
Whether it’s on or off the field, there are no red flags for A.J. Brown. He’s had fairly typical bumps, bruises, and minor injuries but is known for his durability. There are no scandals or controversies to speak of. On a fun note, he was drafted as an outfielder for the San Diego Padres and spent the last few years with them for extended spring practices.
Aside from looking like a cat, A.J. Brown’s spider chart paints a portrait of an atypical receiver based on physical traits. He’s a little shorter than average. The 6’1” he’s often listed as is likely a touch generous. However, he has a longer-than-average wingspan. And he’s quite heavy for the position at 226 lbs. The extra weight is likely a good deal of muscle as he excelled in the bench press. For the speed and agility drills, Brown doesn’t stand out in a positive or negative way.
A.J. Brown’s praises are sung mostly in the slot. Polished route running and good body control allow him to get open. The book on Brown indicates strong hands that pluck the ball out of the air away from body. A lack of fear getting the ball over the middle pairs with a physical style of play to get yards after catch (and contact).
Described more as “quick” than “fast” it’s often cited that A.J. Brown doesn’t possess the deep speed to play on the outside at the NFL level. Despite a physical style of play, concerns surrounding Brown’s ability to beat press coverage are prominent. NFL.com has Brown rated as 6.08 or “should become instant starter” in their profile by Lance Zierlein.
Zierlein compares Brown to JuJu Smith-Schuster and physically the two seem to have a lot in common. The best Buffalo Bills comparison (courtesy of Dan Lavoie) is Anquan Boldin, whose most notable Bills accomplishment was spending less time with the team than Dean Cain.
A team that drafts Brown will likely be one looking for a weapon in the short and intermediate game. Teams looking to help a young quarterback out with a safety valve could be a factor. As would a team built on the short passing game to wear down opponents. So pretty much the entire AFC East would be a good landing spot for Brown. In Buffalo there would be some competition for slot duties, particularly with the addition of Cole Beasley. A stable of shift and precise route runners isn’t exactly unprecedented however.