The 2019 NFL Draft produced some of the best young receivers in the NFL including the Tennessee Titans‘ A.J. Brown and the San Francisco 49ers’ Deebo Samuel.
San Francisco 49ers turned heads this year because of how they used Samuel in their offense. The third-year receiver has been a threat through the air every season, but this year he added another element to his game when he moonlighted as a running back.
The NFL is a copycat league, and there have to be at least a few teams out there who might be willing to rethink what a wide receiver can do based on the incredible season that Samuel had. The Tennessee Titans could be one of those teams, as they are another run-heavy team with a player who could make that work.
Tennessee Titans fans have pleaded for an offense that would feature A.J. Brown more. When you look back at the passing stats, it turns out that they use Brown as often as any team uses their elite receivers, but it doesn’t show up the same way because the Titans will always be a run-first team regardless of who is playing quarterback or running back.
The only way for the Titans to use A.J. Brown more would be to take snaps away from Derrick Henry and let Brown run the ball some. Could they do that, and would it help them if they did?
A.J. Brown could make life a nightmare for defenses as a Tennessee Titans RB
So let’s start by comparing Brown and Samuel on a basic level. Brown is 6’1″, 226 pounds with a 4.49-second 40-yard dash, while Samuel is 6’0″, 215 pounds with a 4.48-second 40-yard dash.
Both are known as excellent playmakers after the catch and are essentially identical in terms of what they can bring to the game. In terms of whether Brown could be used in the same way as Samuel and be effective, that is a resounding yes.
With his slightly bigger frame, he could hand defenses an even greater beating while carrying the football. So while we know what this could bring to the Titans’ offense, that does not answer the question of whether or not they should use Brown in this way, and that depends on what the team looks like in 2022. In particular, whether or not D’Onta Foreman is still on the team will go a long way to determining what their run game will look like in 2022.
We know that Derrick Henry is the main threat in the Titans’ offense, and that will not change anytime soon. But we saw what Foreman could do in his absence, and with both in the same backfield, the Titans could feature the best ground game in the NFL.
If Foreman is back in the two-tone blue next season, then there really will not be much of a need for Brown to take carries. In 2021, Elijah Mitchell was the lead back, with Samuel as the secondary option, and it worked very well for them.
Henry and Foreman would obviously be the top two rushing options in the Titans’ offense, and if Dontrell Hilliard is also back, that is a third option who would be used over Brown. They could obviously use Brown as a rushing threat, but they by no means need him if even one of Foreman and Hilliard is on the team next season.
Ultimately, it would be overkill to do so, and it is a very real thing not only in sports but in life in general that too many options can be detrimental sometimes. If the Titans keep their current run game intact, then they would be wise to continue to let Brown just do his thing of catching the football, and he is pretty darn good at his job as it is.