NAME: A.J. Brown
SCHOOL: Ole Miss
RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star
WT: 226 lbs
Speed: Timed faster than he looks on tape. Doesn’t run by a lot of defensive backs when running vertical routes. Speed is better suited in the intermediate parts of the field. Quicker than fast.
Route Running: Most nuanced and detailed route runner out of the Ole Miss trio. Does a great job of selling his stems with hard head fakes and jab steps. Quick feet allow him to fluidly get in and out of his breaks as well. Predominantly played out of the slot, but fared well for the most part when given the opportunity to run routes on the perimeter. Because he isn’t a true blazer, might struggle to separate against twitchier defensive backs.
Hands: Reliable hands for the most part. Very good at hauling in passes over middle in traffic. Illustrates the ability to secure the ball after taking a shot as well. Has no issues with extending to make catches but will use poor hand positioning at times when doing so. Needs to maintain diamond alignment in these situations.
Releases: Releases against zone and off coverage are phenomenal. Understands how to manipulate defenders from their assigned leverage. Stuns corners by starting his releases at a lackadaisical pace and than exploding out of it. In terms beating press coverage, the results were mixed. If the defender got hands on him early into the rep than he struggled to get off the line. Had trouble releasing cleanly on vertical/outside leverage routes (against press) because of this (vs. Vanderbilt). If he anticipates the jam, he could evade it and separate. Best when he has room to work with.
Body Control: Displays a natural ability to adjust his body to the ball. Also aware of where he is on the field and good at keeping himself in bounds when catching passes by the sideline. Could use body use his body more effectively when shielding off defenders.
Contested Catch: Not going thrive at plucking the ball over defenders heads. Doesn’t elevate for 50/50 passes all that well. However, very good at putting himself in the best position to make contested grabs when grounded.
YAC Ability: Steady speed, dynamic ball carrier moves, and contact balance make him lethal as ball carrier. Also, possesses a good sense of where the defenders are around him, allowing him to create YAC opportunities at a higher rate. Thrives in space as well. Should be utilized with screens and swing passes.
Blocking: Capable blocker but not overly aggressive when doing so. Acts like more of a shield if anything, doesn’t really move anybody. Effort wains at times. Would like him to be more consistent in this area.
Best Trait: YAC Ability
Worst Trait: Vertical Speed
Best Film: Texas A&M (2018)
Worst Film: Alabama (2018)
Pro Comparison: Jarvis Landry
A.J. Brown worked predominantly out of the slot in Ole Miss’s offense, but showed that he can have some success on the boundary as well. However, I think his dynamic YAC ability, route running skills, and soft hands would still be best deployed in the slot at the pro level. In this role, he wouldn’t have to face as much press coverage or run many vertical routes. Also, his skill set is much better suited in the intermediate parts of the field.
That said, I would not classify him as a do it all receiver. So, having him compliment receivers with opposite skills would be ideal. Regardless, I believe that Brown can have pro bowl level production out of the slot and should be a major part of which ever offense he is apart of.