Three-year old analysis of Eagles WR A.J. Brown seems prophetic now

A.J. Brown #1 (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
A.J. Brown #1 (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

In 34 career games at the collegiate level as a member of the Ole Miss Rebels, A.J. Brown racked up 189 receptions resulting in 2,984 yards, and he reached the end zone 19 times. That’s about the time that the NFL came calling. Three years after being taken 51st-overall during Round 2 of the 2019 NFL Draft, he’s joined the Philadelphia Eagles. Let’s just say there’s been a bit of an adrenaline rush.

In 2021, Brown battled hamstring issues and a chest injury. He missed Week 4 and weeks 12, 14, and 15 and still wound up with 63 receptions, 869 receiving yards, and five touchdowns on the season. Keep in mind the fact that, while this was considered to be an off-year, there are quite a few Birds fans that would have killed for those numbers from someone. Heck, there are a few NFL receivers that wish they had been able to boast that type of production.

The Eagles have a star on their hands, and the evidence of that was seen early.

Before he arrived in Philadelphia or, even before that, his time in Oxford with Ole Miss, Brown was a two-sport standout at Starkville High School that led his football team to a 6A state championship. He was named first-team All-State by USA Today and a four-star prospect by the major recruiting services like 247Sports, Rivals, and ESPN.

Here’s what Lance Zierlein said many, many moons ago in his analysis of the former Ole Miss star in a pre-draft profile as the two-time First-Team All-SEC nod (2017, 2018) and Conerly Trophy winner (2017). The latter is an award that’s given annually to the best college football player in the state of Mississippi by the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.

"Slot bully with rare combination of brawn and quickness that allows him to separate with both power and foot quickness. Brown has the size and demeanor to take on a relatively heavy workload as a safety blanket for a young quarterback in a ball-control passing attack. He’ll see an upgrade in athlete across from him, but he has the feet and body control to uncover and create windows as a premium route-runner."

Sounds pretty prophetic now, huh? Sure, A.J. has gone on to prove he’s a monster on the outside as well, but this was spot on.

Zierlein also gave Brown a grade of 6.70, meaning he’d be a day-one starter in the NFL. His professional comp was JuJu Smith-Schuster. That might be the only thing that Zierlein got wrong. While there are legitimate similarities, Brown has passed JuJu in his development.

There were theories early on in the process of free agency that Philly might make a pitch to the former Pittsburgh Steelers star, but Smith-Schuster landed in Kansas City with the Chiefs. Sure, he’s good, but he’s more of a second option, right?

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Philly most certainly came out ahead of where they would have been with the signing of JuJu by landing A.J. Brown. He gives the Birds a true number-one option through the 2026-2027 NFL season.

Don’t take that as a disrespectful jab at DeVonta Smith. He too can be a number-one option in most NFL offenses. It’s a nice ‘problem’ to have if you’re the Philadelphia Eagles. You have an incredible one-two punch at wideout for years, and here’s what’s even better than that. You can’t double-team either one of them.