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Road to the NFL: A.J. Brown Draft Profile

Road to the NFL: A.J. Brown Draft Profile

After a record-setting career for the red and blue, A.J. Brown is now headed to the NFL to face his next gridiron challenge.

AJ. is one of the most decorated Ole Miss players of all time, and  Rebel fans are surely sad to see him go. Next week, he will find out with which NFL team he will begin his career as the NFL Draft begins April 25 in Nashville.

In three phenomenal years at Ole Miss, Brown proved to the world why he was regarded as one of the best receivers in the 2016 recruiting class. On National Signing Day, the Starkville, Miss. native shocked the world when he picked up the Ole Miss hat and passed on his hometown school, Mississippi State.

In a recent NFL Films documentary on Brown and fellow Ole Miss wide receivers D.K.Metcalf and DaMarkus Lodge, A.J. explains his decision to go to school in Oxford.

I felt like Ole Miss was the best place for me. They had a bunch of good receivers they were producing. I knew eventually if I’d be a part of it, it would be my time too, and I’d be just like those guys.”

Ole Miss wide receiver A.J. Brown

Boy, was he right.

Career Overview

In three seasons with the Rebels, A.J. Brown shattered all expectations along with many records. He holds five Ole Miss receiving records now, including:

  • most receptions in a single season (85 in 2018)
  • most career receiving yards (2,984)
  • tied for the most receptions in a game (14),
  • two highest single-season receiving yard totals (1,320 in 2018 and 1,252 in 2017)
  • two highest single-game receiving totals (233 in 2017 and 212 in 2018)

In his final two seasons at Ole Miss, Brown snagged 160 passes for 2,572 yards and 17 TDs.

And do you know the craziest thing about those numbers? Those statistics came with D.K. Metcalf and DaMarkus Lodge alongside him, both 4-star receivers who had their fair share of touches in a pass-heavy Ole Miss offense.

A.J. Brown finished his career at Ole Miss as the all-time leader in career receiving yards.

Brown leaves Ole Miss with a plethora of awards and honors in addition to his mind-blowing stats. In 2017, Brown finished 10th in the FBS with 1,252 receiving yards, was named Third Team AP All-American, First Team All-SEC, and the winner of the Conerly Trophy, given to the best player in the state of Mississippi. In 2018, Brown was First Team All-SEC and Third Team AP All-American.

A.J.’s legacy at Ole Miss is a great one. After shocking the world and signing with his hometown’s biggest rival, Brown put up record numbers in college, breaking Shay Hodge’s career-receiving yardage record of 2,646 yards, and is likely one of the first receivers off the draft board next week in Nashville.

Draft Profile

Headed into the 2019 NFL Draft, A.J. Brown is one of the most highly-touted wide receiver prospects. He stands at 6’0,” 226 pounds with 32 7/8″ arms and 9 3/4″ hands. Brown is on the heavier side of your prototypical slot WR, however, he plays into that with incredible physicality and strength after the catch.

At the NFL Combine, Brown ran a 4.49 second 40-yard dash, completed 19 reps on the bench press, recorded a 36.5 inch vertical jump, and leapt 120 inches flat in the broad jump. According to NFL.com’s draft profile on Brown, he scores a 6.08, which they associate with an instant starter in the NFL.

Here is NFL analyst Lance Zierlein’s analysis of AJ Brown:

Slot bully with rare combination of brawn and quickness that allows him to separate with both power and foot quickness. Brown has the size and demeanor to take on a relatively heavy workload as a safety blanket for a young quarterback in a ball-control passing attack. He’ll see an upgrade in athlete across from him, but he has the feet and body control to uncover and create windows as a premium route-runner.

Some of his greatest strengths include his strong hands, low center of gravity that allows for sharp, quick routes in the slot, great instincts and vision, and incredible physicality for a slot WR.

Zierlein comapres Brown to JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers…not too shabby.

NFL Draft guru Mike Detillier produces an annual Draft Report, considered the go-to guide for many who keep up with the draft, and he includes Brown in his list of top wide receivers.

Brown has excellent length, and he does a good job reaching outside his body zone to make a tough catch. He is a sure-handed end who knows how to set up a defender and gain separation downfield. [Brown] plays the game with good body balance and control skills. He has good change of direction skills, and he is quick to make a move and get free downfield. He’s a very flexible and agile receiver and he makes a tough catch look very easy. Brown runs with the ball very well after the catch, and he has some giddy-up after the reception. He knows how to use his strong arms and hands well to get himself away from defenders. He is a physical player with his downfield blocks…and he can mirror a DB well and away from the runner downfield.

NFL Draft guru Mike Detillier

Photo: Dan Anderson, The Rebel Walk

Where Will Brown Go in the Draft?

At the Rebels’ Pro Day a few weeks ago, Brown said that if it were up to him, he’d be the first player taken in the draft.

Gotta love the confidence.

However, most NFL scouts and draft experts see A.J. going late in the first round, or early in the second round. Bleacher Report sees A.J. going 22nd overall to the Baltimore Ravens, according to their latest mock draft.

The 2019 NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday, and A.J. Brown will go down as one of the best Rebels to ever put on an Ole Miss jersey. It has been a pleasure to cover his collegiate career, and we wish him nothing but the best in his NFL future!

Hotty Toddy!

About The Author

Jake Evans

Jake, a 2021 graduate of Ole Miss with a degree in Integrated Marketing and Communications, is from Nashville, TN. Along with his work at The Rebel Walk, Jake hosts "The Flagship Football Show" podcast. He's also a huge fan of the Rebels, Titans, Predators, and Braves.

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