Lance Zierlein has high praise for the Tennessee Titans rookie receiver.
In a surprising move, NFL Network’s Lance Zierlein ranked Tennessee Titans rookie A.J. Brown a top-5 candidate for offensive rookie of the year.
It isn’t necessarily surprising that Zierlein was high on A.J. Brown because he has liked him since the predraft process. He called Brown a premier route runner and a bully in the slot position, thanks in large part to his build and aggressiveness after the catch.
News out of Nashville has been high on Brown as well, with him getting a lot of praise for his ability to make tough catches look easy and his stellar work ethic.
The real surprising part is his explanation for ranking all the way up at #5:
“Based upon Corey Davis‘ 112 targets last season, we know that Marcus Mariota can fall in love with a big, physical target. Well guess what? Brown is actually a broader, more physical pass catcher and has the ability to become a contested-catch winner from the slot as a safety blanket for Mariota. Brown is unlikely to light it up as a downfield worker, but his toughness and hand strength could warrant target volume with a chance to build an OROY stat profile.”
Is Brown really going to be a more physical pass catcher than Corey Davis? We have seen Davis stiff arm defensive backs into the dirt and fight through illegal contact and pass interference calls and still come up with touchdown catches.
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If Brown can be more physical than that, the Tennessee Titans will be able to throw into tight windows with confidence for the first time in Marcus Mariota’s career. All of the sudden RPOs and play actions become just a little bit more deadly.
This is also important because the Titans could be looking for someone to fill that “contested catch” role with Delanie Walker potentially starting camp out on the PUP list.
No matter who is healthy, I think A.J. Brown may up there with Corey Davis as one of the most hyped up receivers the Tennessee Titans have brought in over the last decade or so. If you remember, there really wasn’t a lot of hype for Davis since he was hurt during camp and really had his whole season managed due to that injury.
If he can live up to expectations, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him take over the WR2 role quickly. With other teams trying to force the ball away from Corey Davis, that could mean a lot of volume and a lot of chances to bully a defense’s second best cornerback.