Antonio Brown, WR, Central Michigan
Height and weight: 5'10, 186 pounds
Brown only spent one season in high school but demonstrated his abilities to the max, returning 11 punts for touchdowns during that one year. He went on to Central Michigan and earned MAC Freshman of the Year when he caught 102 catches for 1,003 yards with six touchdowns. During the next two seasons, Brown produced similar numbers, catching 93 passes, 998 yards, and 7 touchdowns(2008), and 110 passes, 1,198 yards, and 9 touchdowns in 2009. Brown earned 1st team All-MAC during those two seasons. Last season, Brown showed his rushing ability, running for 341 yards and three touchdowns. Brown's bread and butter was on special teams, where he earned MAC Special Teams Player of the Year two times, accumulating 3,434 total return yards, two kick return touchdowns, and three punt return touchdowns in three seasons.
Projected Round: 5th - 6th
Brown's initial release off of the line isn't mind-blowing, but he has the speed to run past safeties for the open look. Brown is ideally a slot receiver. He has great hands for the slot position and will make the occasional one-handed catch, and he's not afraid to sacrifice his body and layout for a catch. His route running is crisp and would also fit nicely in the slot. He sinks his hips and uses his shiftiness and head-fakes to turn the corner to the outside. After the catch, Brown is tough to bring down. He's very elusive, has great vision and will get up-field once the ball is in his hands. Brown excells with screens and reverses, using his blockers to maneuver away from defenders. He's not afraid to run-block, and can take a big hit and bounce back up. He'll play any position the coaches ask him to and he didn't have any character issues in college.
What Brown does lack, is the effectiveness to become a true number one receiver. He fits well in the slot but that's where it ends. He doesn't have great acceleration and takes a while to release from the line. Physical cornerbacks will give him problems, and Brown needs to work on his hand play at the line of scrimmage. He can get lazy when running routes and needs to work on squaring off more consistently. In three seasons, Brown had six fumbles(three lost) and needs to focus on switching the ball to his outside hand. He isn't a prototypical blocking receiver and will struggle making contact with bigger linebackers.
Brown is clearly a late round selection, but his contributions to the team would be hard-pressed to pass up. He's a team player and brings many intangibles with him. Judging by his size(5'10, 186 lbs), Brown would primarily fit better in the slot role on offense. He's a quick receiver that has dependable hands, but does need to improve his technique and certain aspects of his game.
I may be part of a small group that thinks the Cardinals are in need of a wide receiver, but with the loss of Anquan Boldin, Jerheme Urban, and Sean Morey, the Cardinals do have a hole to fill at wide out. Brown is projected to land somewhere in the later rounds of the draft and since the Cardinals don't have a 5th round pick, he'd be a great addition in the 6th round(if he falls that far). Brown would be a project player and would learn behind the three receivers ahead of him, but could contribute if needed. The biggest contribution however, would be on special teams. With Steve Breaston now starting, I'd assume that he'd be limited on punt returns next season. Brown would fill that role to perfection, as he was the primary return man at Central Michigan. What are your thoughts on Antonio Brown and would the Cardinals be wise to select him in the 6th round?