OTAs never get me excited. Playing football without the threat of bodily harm is a non sequitur. Players that have performed at the highest level, in pressure situations, look pedestrian while undrafted free agents sometimes shine. So I don’t put a lot of stock into offseason performances.
And that’s why Tyrann Mathieu shocked me last year. Not because of the success he had on the field, not because of how many footballs he got his hands on during OTAs, not even because Todd Bowles started him in nickel packages before playing a single game. Badger shocked me because of how people were speaking about him before he ever put the Sunday silks on.
John Brown is drawing the same kind of praise. I had a grizzled veteran tell me the kid is telling other players what to do and where to line up. Bruce Arians says the kid stays off the Accountability Board, the board where every mental error a player makes during practice is posted for his teammates to see. Many players bring his name up without context. Carson Palmer has taken a shine to the kid from Pittsburg State, recognizing the potential of Steve Keim’s 3rd-round pick.
Get ready for 11 personnel, especially during run downs (1st & 10, 2nd & 1-6). 11 personnel puts three wide receivers on the field with a TE and RB. Although I believe Ted Ginn, Jr. will be the starting #3 receiver (another guy that is having a great offseason), I believe the Cards will have an 11 personnel package specific to John Brown as the #3 receiver.
This kid, like Tyrann Mathieu, may be rare.
He has exceptional speed. At Indianapolis, he recorded the penultimate time in the 40, finishing second only to Brandin Cooks’ 4.33. He catches the ball with daggers, picking the pig from the air with firm, strong hands. He’s quick and precise in his routes which, when combined with his diminutive frame, makes him the quintessential slot-receiver.
Mathieu was picked in the 3rd round and so was Brown. The best thing is that’s not the only thing they have in common: they’re both ta’veren (Google it my young Crunks).