We continue our scouting reports of prospects in the 2019 draft class who could be a great fit in a position of need for the San Francisco 49ers. Today, we take a closer look at Ole Miss wide receiver A.J. Brown. The slot receiver has been amongst the most discussed and highly anticipated receivers in this draft class. Brown had a productive and successful campaign for the Rebels during his tenure at Ole Miss. The borderline first round pick will be of many teams’ radars. Let’s take a closer look at what Brown has to offer and why he should transition to be a successful receiver at the next level.
There were no surprises during Brown’s NFL scouting combine workout. Brown has speed but isn’t going to fly off the charts. He put up respectable bench reps with an above average vertical jump, and broad jump. Below are his combine stats and measureables:
40 Yard Dash: 4.49
Bench Press: 19 Reps
Vertical Jump: 36.5”
Broad Jump: 120.0”
Weight: 226 lbs.
Hands: 9 ¾”
Arms: 32 7/8”
Let’s start with his strong and reliable hands. Brown was a target machine for the Rebels and racked up the receptions with a combined 160 catches over two seasons.
Has the build and frame that scouts and evaluators seek at the pro level. Seems to have a quicker game playing speed, where his routes are fast, while Brown will add speed when needed. Can jolt and stop on a dime, cut, and get himself open on those short and intermediate possession throws.
At many points this season Brown moved the chains on crucial third and short situations. Uses his hands to fight off contact in one to one and zone matchups against defenders. Brown has the ability to run the short, intermediate, and deep routes. In fact, Brown was quite reliable on the deeper routes and passes as seen below.
On tape, Brown has demonstrated his ability to complete combat passes. Brown was a two sport athlete and was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 19th round of the 2016 amateur draft. This gets me to my next point about Brown, that he has a centerfielder’s mindset with the ability to track down the ball with elite hand-eye coordination skills.
Brown uses his size and “Running back” ability to create and gain yards after the initial contact is made.
Many times on tape, Brown was able to “Sell” the route while running fluidly through his hips and feet to throw cornerbacks off balance. I like Brown’s speed, however I don’t love it. Brown isn’t going to burst past defenders and take the top off of a defense. However, where he makes up for this is his ability to create separation with his crafty and swift feet. At many different times I watched Brown find open windows and space for his quarterback to complete a pass.
Eagles' Official Visit, Ole Miss WR AJ Brown struggles to burst out of hard angle cuts but he's got some spring to separate when working vertical routes. Takes his shoulders/head w/the step outside of his frame at the breakpoint - pic.twitter.com/x1EOvHHMlr— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) March 24, 2019
Another strong quality about Brown that often goes unlooked and unappreciated is his ability to block. His blocking, especially in the run game, made a positive impact on the field. Something to consider is that Brown was mostly limited to the slot. This isn’t a bad thing, and believe me, Brown made the most of his time there. He didn’t amass over 3,000 combined receiving yards in his collegiate career by accident. Overall, what I love about Brown is his ability to create open space with his creativity, his reliable hands, and his ability to make catches at all three levels on the field. A word that comes to mind with A.J. Brown is reliable. He might not be the most explosive or physically daunting receiver in this draft class, however his consistency, skillset, and hard-working mentality all set Brown up to be a starter for an NFL club as early as week 1 in his rookie season.
Is Brown A Fit for The 49ers?
Before the 49ers released Pierre Garcon I wasn’t sure if there was a role on this team for Brown. However, Garcon has since been released, and Brown should be a strong consideration for this offense, yes, even with Trent Taylor on the roster. As I mentioned about Parris Campbell in his scouting report, Brown is another receiver that Kyle Shanahan can get creative with. While Brown might be a bit more limited than Campbell, he offers an offense more of the traditional, physical possession-style receiver who can catch the ball vertically downfield and move the chains. Brown has good speed, who can catch the ball at all three levels on the field. I also think A.J. Brown can be a nice compliment to Dante Pettis, and together with George Kittle, and the three-headed monster in the backfield, Brown can certainly add another dimension and element to this 49ers offense. Should Brown fall to the 49ers second round pick it might be too tempting to pass on his talent, especially if the team is looking to select a receiver in this spot. I like Brown in this 49ers offense, and would be intrigued to see how Kyle Shanahan would utilize and deploy him.
What are YOUR thoughts on A.J. Brown? Do you see him as a fit in this 49ers offense? Would you select him in the second-round? Please share in the comments below!