The Arizona Cardinals decided to add a little-known Division II receiver in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft by selecting WR John Brown of Pittsburgh State University. Brown, a light 5-foot-10, 179 pounds, will likely serve as a return man and slot receiver at the next level for the Cardinals. Brown has experience in both areas and has actually excelled in both areas.
Brown certainly has the speed (4.34 second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine) to go along with a great set of hands and excellent playmaking ability working as a slot receiver. The former Pitt State standout also runs some clean and precise routes, which is something the Cardinals have stressed out of their receivers over the past few seasons.
He does, however, lack the ideal size, being just under 180 pounds. You would like to see him being somewhere around 190 at the very least, especially if he is going to be working in the slot and across the middle of the defense. He will need to add some size and strength to beat defenders off the line of scrimmage, or else it may be a tough few seasons for the speedster.
When you watch Brown play, you see shades of Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders, a small, yet very shifty receiver, who possesses breakaway speed, but will also be willing to make the tough grabs across the middle. Brown’s ability to do so will make him a very intriguing option for the Cardinals as a slot receiver, where he will be locked into a battle with season veteran WR Ted Ginn Jr., who is coming off a nice season with the Carolina Panthers.
Brown may not be able to beat Ginn Jr. outright for the starting slot role, but expect to see some packages with just Brown or even both Brown and Ginn Jr. on the field at the same time to utilize mismatches against the defense due to their legitimate 4.3 speed. Look for Brown and Ginn Jr. to form one of the league’s more volatile return units in the league.