A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
A summary of the logic of my pick.
As the Colts internet GM, I chose to play to my personal strengths and tried to hedge against my weaknesses, which really spans more than half the positions. Frankly, defensive players and offensive linemen are not areas I can really claim any level of understanding in evaluating prospects either on film, or in advanced metrics and counting stats. I have no interest rolling the dice on a player with a mixed bag of strengths and weaknesses if I can afford not to, so it’s something I chose to take into consideration. When taking a player at 26th overall, it was important for me to hit on a player with the most rock solid guarantee for success that I could in selecting for the team, as this now the territory where players aren’t always a lock to become a solid contributor in the NFL. Mind you, this is the same spot where Marcus Smith was taken in the 2014 NFL draft.
Let me just say this: I like my pick. Despite my limitations, I really like my pick. Luckily for me, I had the opportunity to select a player from a position group that: plays more to my evaluation strengths; has an excellent skillset and production floor; and fits what is arguably the number one need of the Indianapolis Colts. Selecting A.J. Brown 26th overall was a sure hit at a location in the draft where prospects aren’t always a lock to be a high caliber, or even average NFL starter. He falls right in the middle of the Venn diagram of everything I’m looking for with my pick.
Let’s quickly assess the Colts needs.
- Wide Receiver
- Defensive Line
- Tight End
Although it was never explicitly stated, prevailing logic would dictate that these are essentially listed in the order of importance. Most would agree that the Colts have a sort of 1A, 1B need at Wide Receiver and Defensive Line. Both positions are very important positional voids for the Colts that can be argued both for and against as the number one need, and most agree that it’s pretty close.
Fortunately for the Colts, this year’s NFL draft is full of both high end Defensive Line and Wide Receiver talent. However, by this time in the BGN Readers Mock Draft, 9 Defensive Linemen have been selected in the first 25 picks, while only 2 teams took Wide Receivers. Even in an extremely top heavy DL class, a significant amount of the market supply has already been dried up.
As stated above, my logic is to take a player that fits a need that I can feel comfortable evaluating with relative safety. With the DL pool of players now dried up into the double digits, we’re now dealing with a remaining set of players with a mixed bag pros and cons. I know I don’t possess the requisite knowledge to pick out a bona-fide stud DL at this point, so I looked for the opportunity to hedge against the unknowns.
Enter, A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss.
Why do I feel confident about A.J. Brown and picking a wide receiver?
When evaluating a Wide Receiver prospect, there are certain definable data elements that can be predictive of future performance with reasonable consistency. That’s right, there is a definable process for this! These criteria are:
- Requisite Size
- Size Adjusted Athleticism Scores
- College Dominance
- Breakout Age
The more of these requirements a WR prospect meets, the more likely that player is to succeed at the NFL level. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but as a rule of thumb you can use this is as a reliable system of evaluation. Note that film grinding is not a part of this process. Anybody can turn on YouTube to watch game tape and highlights, and deceive themselves into a false opinion on a player, and even worse… their own evaluation ability. I’m looking at you, draft Twitter and your awful Riley Ridley takes.
What we care about is production and athleticism. We are married to both. Context keys also matter, such as level of competition, and supporting cast: i.e. did this person play with other NFL caliber players on their team?
Let’s dig into A.J. Brown’s profile.
- HT: 6’0”
- WT: 226 lbs
- Age: 21.8
- Arm Length: 32 ⅞ (78th%)
A.J. Brown fits the archetype for the modern NFL receiver. He has requisite size and measurables that teams are looking for: he’s neither undersized or oversized, both in height and weight. More teams are spreading the ball around to more and more receivers, as the NFL is seeing an uptick in passing. We are seeing an increase in WR 2-3 production as passing attacks become more varied, while we see less of a reliance on the big-bodied X receiver. What I am saying is, 6’0” is not a red flag for a WR prospect in 2019. Weapons come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, Brown is closer to the size profile of the modern weapon receiver, even when compared to his former Ole Miss teammate, D.K. Metcalf. Speed, agility and production is what ultimately matters most.
Let’s see if he dominated in college:
- College Dominator Score: 32.6% (59th%)
- College YPR: 16.1 (71st%)
- Breakout Age: 20.2 (59th%)
- ’16 Freshman: 29 rec, 412 yards
- ‘17 Sophomore: 75 rec, 1,252 yards
- ‘18 Junior: 85 rec, 1,320 yards
In 3 years at Ole Miss, A.J. Brown posted two 1,000+ yard seasons. He broke out in his Sophomore year where he became the staple of the offense, demanding a higher target share than D.K. Metcalf and DaMarkus Lodge. It’s important to note that among his supporting cast were two receivers that are likely to both have a future in the NFL.
While other players could’ve hogged a significant portion of Brown’s target share, he still commanded a significant role in his offense. We could see a scenario where we might have to discount his production, yet he still posted a 59th percentile Dominator Rating. Along with multiple 1,000+ yard seasons, this is a major accomplishment for a Wide Receiver prospect. He showed that he was prolific at a young age, with tough competition for targets, and over multiple seasons.
This sets a reasonable floor for us to work with in what we can expect for him to produce in the NFL. This is among the most stable production profiles you can find, as he excelled in all that we would ask of a college Wide Receiver. It’s time confirm his production with athleticism
Athleticism Metrics and Scores
- 40-Yard Dash: 4.49
- Speed Score: 109.7 (89th%)
- Burst Score: 122.1 (56th%)
A.J. Brown showed up in Indianapolis for the Combine, so we are going to keep him there. Running a 4.49 40-yard dash at 226 lbs garnered him a Speed Score in the 89th percentile. He showed upper percentile size adjusted burst as well. His athletic profile may be overshadowed by his Ole Miss teammate D.K. Metcalf, but Brown demonstrated at the Combine that he has the athleticism to reinforce his superior production profile, shown above.
For information and understanding on player scores, advanced metrics, and data analysis tools, visit www.playerprofiler.com. This is the website I used and cited for my stats for A.J. Brown, which I use almost every day as a fantasy football enthusiast. For more understanding A.J. Brown the player, as well as other NFL players and rookies, scroll down to the YouTube clips near the bottom of each players profile page. No, I’m not affiliated with them, but they do get my endorsement.
A.J. Brown has a production profile that is nearly flawless. He produced at the college level at levels that indicate that he will absolutely succeed at the NFL level. He’s as close to sure thing that one could really want, rivaled by only N’Keal Harry who was selected earlier by the Ravens in this mock.
If the Colts do take A.J. Brown in this upcoming NFL draft, his fit with the team would be excellent. They have speedy (but aging) T.Y. Hilton on the outside, as well as Devin Funchess on a one-year deal. Funchess is not a lock to be a long term piece for the Colts, so he shouldn’t be an obstacle to selecting A.J. Brown, who has demonstrated both slot and outside capability.
Oh, and Dear Colts fans…
On Week 3 of the 2018 NFL season, my girlfriend and I went to the Eagles home game versus the Colts (as she’s a big Colts fan). With about 41-seconds left in the 1st quarter, Ryan Grant ran a corner route 1-on-1 versus Ronald Darby and won his battle to score the touchdown. In the midst of the moans and groans of highly agitated Eagles fans, came a shout loud from about 3 rows back: “Even I could’ve covered freaking Ryan Grant…!”. He was probably right.
You’re welcome, Indy.
Do you approve of this pick?
This poll is closed
2019 BGN Mock Draft Order
1) Cardinals (Philliesandthebees): Kyler Murray
2) 49ers (SakPrescott): Nick Bosa
3) Jets (thealien2696): Quinnen Williams
4) Raiders (SisyphusNoMore): Josh Allen
5) Buccaneers (EAGLESBSU): Montez Sweat
6) Giants (ablesser88): Dwayne Haskins
7) Jaguars (20Safety_Hazards): Jawaan Taylor
8) Lions (89Tremaine): Ed Oliver
9) Bills (drc242): Jonah Williams
10) Broncos (ItownBallers22): Devin White
11) Bengals (Phoenix X Maximus): Cody Ford
12) Packers (Palaniappan K M): Brian Burns
13) Dolphins (wildcatlh): Andre Dillard
14) Falcons (Happy24): Rashan Gary
15) Washington (roberticus01): D.K. Metcalf
16) Panthers (JALupowitz): Clelin Ferrell
17) Giants (KevinDont): Devin Bush
19) Titans (Big Schmoopie): Christian Wilkins
20) Steelers (J. Wil): T.J. Hockenson
21) Seahawks (NickfoleonDynamite): Chauncey Gardner-Johnson
22) Ravens (GMinTraining): N’Keal Harry
23) Texans (EaglesRock94): Byron Murphy
24) Raiders (SummersInVA): Greedy Williams
25) Eagles (I Need a Username): Garrett Bradbury
26) Colts (Nolo0oo): A.J. Brown
27) Raiders (SLC Eagle):
28) Chargers (LBCeaglesFan!):
29) Chiefs (Boxer Madness):
30) Packers (Kephas):
31) Rams (Matthieuck):
32) Patriots (Zett_66):
Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think the Colts should pick in the 2019 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.
Who should the Colts draft at No. 26 overall?
This poll is closed
2019 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft
1) Cardinals: Kyler Murray
2) 49ers: Nick Bosa
3) Jets: Quinnen Williams
4) Raiders: Josh Allen
5) Buccaneers: Montez Sweat
6) Giants: Dwayne Haskins
7) Jaguars: Jawaan Taylor
8) Lions: Ed Oliver
9) Bills: Jonah Williams
10) Broncos: Devin White
11) Bengals: Devin Bush
12) Packers: T.J. Hockenson
13) Dolphins: Andre Dillard
14) Falcons: Rashan Gary
15) Washington: Drew Lock
16) Panthers: Clelin Ferrell
17) Giants: Brian Burns
18) Vikings: Noah Fant
19) Titans: Christian Wilkins
20) Steelers: D.K. Metcalf
21) Seahawks: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson
22) Ravens: N’Keal Harry
23) Texans: Cody Ford
24) Raiders: Greedy Williams
25) Eagles: Garrett Bradbury