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In my weekly column, we take a long look at impact fantasy football rookies.  I compare their performance to date against my original expectations of them.  Let’s continue this 2014 version of JBthe series by looking at one of the surprising wide receivers, John Brown.  I will look at some of his college production against his performance versus St. Louis to discern his dynasty value.

This is what I glimpsed from his college film:  The young wide out has great initial burst aka acceleration and can start/stop quickly without losing steps to gear up or down (he possesses 4.34 40 speed that he showed off at the NFL Combine).  Brown runs crisp, clean routes and could not be covered in one on one situations.  He uses precise footwork and is a good technician making every route look the same off the line.  The receiver has good downfield vision that he used well as a returner.

Brown will need to be put in motion a lot or used out of the slot to get off the line cleanly, because he does not seem to have the strength to deal with bigger, stronger defensive backs.  When the receiver got pressed, he got re-routed throwing off the timing of the play.  The wide out did not see a high level of competition as a collegian playing for a smaller school, Pittsburgh State (which is not in Pennsylvania).  He is old for rookie at 24 and may not have the frame (5′ 10″ 179 lbs.) to add additional weight or power without losing speed.  Brown has a bad habit of using his body to secure the ball instead of catching it cleanly and his concentration can be suspect at times.  His size and play help him get compared to the Steelers Antonio Brown and the Colts T.Y. Hilton, but he still has a long way to go living up to that.

Against the Rams, here is what I saw: the rookie wide out lined up both on the outside and in the slot, but was most effective lined up flanked right beside Larry Fitzgerald or Michael Floyd.  This forced the defense to worry about the bigger receivers first.  The Cardinals did not use him in one or two receiver sets, but featured him prominently in three, four, and five wide sets with their receiving core at full strength.  Brown got targeted six times which was only seconded by Fitzgerald’s ten.  As a run blocker, the young wide out gets in front of his defensive back and tries to stay in his way, but is not very effective.

When he had passes thrown on target, Brown caught the ball with his fingertips, in stride, and looks like a very fluid runner with no wasted motion.  He adjusted well to deeper targets in the air, but could not get to a ball thrown behind him in the middle of the field despite getting his hands on the pigskin.  Each and every snap off the ball looks the same, and he did get off the line even when initially pressed by using good footwork and using his hands to disengage.  The receiver has amazing acceleration and got behind his coverage on a deep pass in the end zone that Ryan Lindley threw short or Brown would have had an impressive fantasy day.  It was concerning to see him pulled near the end zone by another Brown, Jaron Brown (who is taller and thicker).

I like John Brown as aWR3-4 who could grow into something more with Bruce Arians coaching him.  Perhaps if Fitzgerald leaves, Brown will get more opportunities.  His size demands great quarterback play with ball placement and if Carson Palmer isn’t healthy, the young wide out’s game will suffer. Otherwise, I would rank him a bit higher.  His lackluster play over the last month might lower his trading price so ask about him if you don’t own him already.

Do you like what you are reading?  Do you want extra insight at the Senior Bowl?  Please donate using my PayPal button to make sure I attend this year’s Senior Bowl Game and the week of practice before the game.  You can follow me on Twitter @AndrewMiley or the site @Dynasty_Blitz.


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