In the Arizona Cardinals community, receiver John Brown is perhaps the player with the most buzz over the last two seasons combined. He was a stud in the offseason before his rookie season, no one could cover him and then he made a clear impact his rookie year.
Yes, he is being talked about by teammates and coaches as a guy who will have a huge year, but another player quietly is becoming very solid -- fifth round pick J.J. Nelson.
In the span of a week, we have had two people say this -- he is further along than Brown was last year.
If this is true, it really is nothing short of amazing. Brown seemed to catch on quickly to the offense and had very close work with Carson Palmer. Nelson didn't get that same talk in offseason workouts. In training camp, though, he has risen up the depth chart. He is the third receiver in three-WR sets now that Michael Floyd is out and it gives the Cardinals so much speed on the field.
Nelson, when drafted, was really only projected to be a return specialist. That is what he was special at in college. He returned four kicks for touchdowns last season at UAB.
If he is truly ahead of where John Brown was last year, what can he accomplish this season?
Of course, his role will be different. He probably becomes the fourth receiver when Floyd returns from injury. He won't have the same opportunities Brown did last year.
But the fifth rounder is already being noticed.
Arians gets a lot of credit for being a quarterback whisperer. Maybe he needs more credit for the development of receivers. With the careers of Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and T.Y. Hilton beginning with Arians, the resurrection of Reggie Wayne's career in 2012 and now Brown and Nelson, perhaps he should be known more as a receiver whisperer.