A.J. Brown has had a roller coaster ride in the dynasty community. A year ago he was considered by many to be the consensus top wide receiver in the 2019 NFL Draft. Over the course of the year, the shine wore off, and A.J. Brown started to fall out of the conversation as one of the elite wide receiver prospects in this class, and his dynasty value started to fall.
He has since made a return toward the top of the dynasty rookie rankings and sits atop many analysts’ boards. He is, by no means, the consensus, and isn’t even the favorite at the 1.01, but many still believe that he belongs there.
I am taking a slightly more cautious approach with A.J. Brown. I still think that he is a really good receiver, and I can imagine ways that he could end up being the most valuable dynasty asset in this class. I just think that it is harder to imagine for him than it is for some of the other wide receivers in the 2019 NFL Draft.
A.J. Brown is a physical wide receiver that utilizes his strength and tenacity in all aspects of his game. He is physical in his routes, he is physical at the catch point, and he is physical after the catch.
His ability as a RAC receiver is probably his strongest attribute, which is interesting because he appears to be just average in his lateral agility and explosiveness. He runs like a running back, has excellent balance through contact and is very aware of his positioning and the positioning of defenders. He uses his blocks well and is shifty after the catch.
His physical nature and balance make him tough to bring down, and he consistently gets yards after contact in open field. He doesn’t project to be a gadget player or one that is used extensively on wide receiver screens, but he has excellent abilities in space to be able to extend short targets into big gains.
A.J. Brown is a good athlete that ran a decent 40 yard dash with some nice explosive numbers. He also performed predictably well on the bench press. He didn’t perform his agility drills, which appear to be the tests that he would not have excelled in.
Regardless, his athleticism isn’t a question mark, and A.J. Brown should look right at home in the NFL both physically and athletically.
A.J. Brown is a solid route runner that does a lot of the little things well. His breaks are sharp. He utilizes some nice fakes at the top of his routes, and he does a good job of running his routes with a plan. His lack of lateral agility seems most present in his routes, but he does a nice job of masking it with technique.
A.J. Brown has good hands but not elite. His hands are plenty good enough for the NFL, and he usually catches the ball away from his frame. He can catch the ball through contact, but he isn’t especially good when a defender is able to get his hand on the ball.
Combined with his just-above-average speed, his below average ability to pull the ball in over a defender, his lack of high-point ability, and his general stiffness as an athlete, I’m not sure that A.J. Brown projects to be much of a threat down the field. He could produce in the red zone, but his effectiveness in this area will be based on volume, which will be based on who the are other options on his eventual team.
A.J. Brown carries a little more risk with him than some of the other prospects that I have at the top end of the 2019 dynasty rookies. He’s excellent after the catch, and pretty good at most things, but he isn’t really elite at anything other than his RAC ability.
That certainly has value, and he could definitely be a productive receiver in the NFL, but I’m not sure that I see the WR1 upside that some of the other prospects in this class have and he doesn’t necessarily have the high floor that someone like Deebo Samuel has.
I still like him in the number five slot of rookie drafts. I can see an argument for him at the 1.04, but I think that’s probably as high as I feel comfortable taking him. That said, I think that there is a pretty significant drop off from A.J. Brown to the next tier. The next tier is a significantly more risky group of WRs.