What is about the third round of the NFL draft that lets the Arizona Cardinals are able to make waves? Last year it was the selection of Tyrann Mathieu and he had a great rookie season until a knee injury ended it prematurely. This year the pick was John Brown of Pittsburg State (Kansas) and it looks like the Arizona Cardinals hit another home run.
Let’s look back at his scouting report on CBSSports.com and see what the “experts” had to say about him.
STRENGTHS: Dangerous space player with his natural athleticism, speed and instant acceleration. Very controlled movements with decisive start/stop quickness and sharp footwork in his routes. Gets vertical in a hurry. Fluid body type and changes gears well, setting up his patterns and catching defenders off-balance. Proficient route runner for a Division-II player. Smart football player with good vision and run instincts and understands how to win in single coverage. Strong work ethic and pushed himself to bulk up to his current weight. Special teams demon with five career touchdown returns (3 PR, 2 KR) ? averaged 13.6 on PR and 26.9 on KR. Motivated with a can-do attitude and carries himself like a professional. Team leader and a three-time captain. Consistent production the past three seasons (34 career starts), leaving Pittsburg State as the career leader in receptions (185) and combining for 45 career touchdowns (34 receiving, 6 rushing, 3 PR, 2 KR).
WEAKNESSES: Marginal height with a lean, wiry build and appears maxed out physically. Small hands and will have his share of drops, often relying on his body to secure grabs. Balanced, but won?t break many tackles after initial contact and lacks much power to his game. Too easily re-routed and will get pushed around by defenders down the field, especially in traffic. Limited blocker and overall upper body strength to sustain contact. All of his production has come at the Division-II level or lower and the late bulb came on later for him. Has stayed healthy in college, but his frame doesn?t look like it can take a consistent beating.
Brown isn’t the biggest of guys on the field as he checks in 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds but he makes up for it with speed and the ability to read defenses to find the holes in them.
The last sentence from the scouting report seems to sum it up perfectly.
Brown lacks ideal experience against top competition, but he has strong football character with the God-given athletic gifts to make plays at the next level, either in the slot or as a return man on kickoffs and punts.
If it wasn’t for the presence of Ted Ginn Jr., Brown could very well be the lead return man for the team in addition to his wide receiver role. Since he came into training camp, Brown has wowed the team and fans alike.
He had a good game against Houston to open the preseason with 87 yards and five catches on 10 targets. He also drew a 39-yard pass interference penalty.
Inevitably the comparisons have been made to other NFL players, past and present, and they have been of a lofty level. On the preseason broadcast, Arizona color commentator Ron Wolfley compared him to Marvin Harrison.
General Manager Steve Keim made this comparison to a current NFL player in a Chris Wesseling article on NFL.com
“I haven’t seen a rookie come in and do what he’s done — and it’s early still — since Anquan Boldin,” Keim told Grantland’s Robert Mays on Monday. “This guy came through the first day, and being from Pittsburg State, has uncanny instincts, unbelievable understanding of route concepts, leverage, being in the right spot at the right time. On top of great ball skills, he has unusual speed and explosiveness.”
Keim is totally right in his assessment. He also admitted that there would have been “holes in the wall of team headquarters if another team swooped in to steal the small-school star.”
Arizona got Brown and nobody had to run to Home Depot for spackle and drywall.
Wesseling listed Brown as one of the biggest shining stars to watch from this year’s class of rookie wide receivers. Brown is on the same level as Sammy Watkins of Buffalo in that regard. It’s a great comparison and will be interesting to see how those two players stack up over the course of the season.
We definitely want to punch our ticket on the John Brown wow train. We have a feeling he’s only just begun to dazzle in this league.