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Ole Miss receiver A.J. Brown presents an interesting fit for the Giants

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Could A.J. Brown be an insurance policy for Sterling Shepard?

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

It says something about the quality of the wide receivers in the 2019 NFL Draft that AJ Brown could have the best and most varied season of his college career only to slip down draft boards.

That isn’t to say that he is, by any means, a poor receiver or that he took a step back. This is just a strong and deep class of receivers.

And as it so happens, the New York Giants could use another wide receiver. The team will need to find a long-term solution for third receiver position and a potential replacement for Sterling Shepard if he departs in free agency. Ole Miss had one of the best receiving corps in the nation last year, and could see each of their top three receivers drafted before the third round of the draft is out.

Could A.J. Brown, their most productive receiver, be a future Giant?

Measurables

Pros

  • Prototypical size and frame for an NFL wideout. Good height and length with plenty of strength.
  • Highly competitive and physical receiver, both as a route runner and blocker.
  • Frames the ball and plucks it out of the air.
  • Solid route runner who looks to set up defenders and separate out of his breaks.
  • Very effective working the middle of the field, especially against zone
  • Strength, elusiveness, and field vision are assets after the catch.

Cons

  • Not an elite athlete.
  • Ran a fairly limited route tree at Ole Miss.
  • Struggled to separate against tight or athletic man coverage.
  • Might be limited to the Z or Slot at the next level.

Prospect Video

What They’re Saying

Brown offers an appealing short to intermediate receiving skill set that is optimized from the slot given his rawness to clearing press coverage from the outside. He uncovers quickly, has strong hands and is effective creating yardage post-catch. While his frame suggests he can be an x receiver, he’s rarely been used in that capacity and needs technical work to find success in the NFL without a clean release. By year three, Brown has the makings of a prolific receiver that keeps the chains moving for his offense.

- Joe Marino (The Draft Network - Scouting Report)

Does He Fit The Giants?

Brown would be an interesting prospect for the Giants. Just looking at him, it’s easy to assume that he is a natural “X” receiver, used to playing out wide and on the line of scrimmage. While Brown could get there eventually, he could also be the next in the NFL’s trend of “big slot” receivers. Brown has 185 receptions for 2,984 yards and 19 touchdowns over his three years at Ole Miss, and most of them have come from the slot.

He did get some time at wide receiver in 2018 after D.K. Metcalf was lost for the season to injury, and he responded well to the time outside. However, he (predictably) appears more comfortable and plays faster in the slot. Brown didn’t deal well with the kind of athletic press coverage he could see as an “X” in the NFL, but is dangerous when given a somewhat free release or playing against zone coverage. Given some time, he could develop into a receiver who moves between the Slot and Z receiver. At those positions Brown would be able to get cleaner releases off the snap and use his strengths to keep offenses on track, as well pick up yards after the catch.

As far as the Giants’ offense is concerned, that potential versatility is a plus. Likewise, Brown’s ability on in-breaking routes, such as slants or hook routes, line up well with what the Giants like to call. And when he isn’t in the progression for a particular route concept, Brown’s size and physicality would make him a good blocker for his teammates (or distraction for defensive backs).

Brown is unlikely to be selected on the first day of the draft, but he should be a good value on the second day in the right situation.