John Brown was a revelation as a rookie last season, as the third-round pick from Pittsburg State caught 48 passes for 696 yards and five touchdowns.
Pretty much from the moment he stepped onto the field for rookie minicamp he was turning heads, so in a way, his production was no surprise.
Now entering his second season, the expectations are even higher.
Over at the NFL Network, some panelists were asked to give their picks for who will make the biggest second-year impact.
Gregg Rosenthal chose the Cardinals’ burner.
“He is just a fun guy to watch, a big playmaker,” the analyst said, while footage of Brown scoring on some long touchdown passes played on the screen. “He produced despite not having Carson Palmer the whole season. With Palmer back, he’s going to be making these deep plays down the field.”
Rosenthal pointed out that in the NFL today, a receiver doesn’t necessarily have to be large in stature to produce big numbers on the field.
Brown is listed at 5-foot-11 and 179-pounds, though he said he has gained about 10 pounds of muscle since last season. The idea is that with a little more strength, he will be able to get off press coverage easier as well as not wear down late in the season, like he did as a rookie.
In further breaking down Brown’s future, Rosenthal said he could see a T.Y. Hilton-esque improvement. Hilton, who plays for the Indianapolis Colts, went from 50 catches and 861 yards as a rookie to 82 receptions for 1,083 yards as a second-year pro. Also a smaller wideout, at 5-foot-9 and 178 pounds, he’s not a particularly bad comparison for the Cardinals’ Brown.
“A healthy quarterback would change everything for a lot of players on that team, if Carson Palmer can play,” fellow analyst Marc Sessler chimed in. “But come on, this guy was good last year. Gregg’s going with a home run pick — he was already making plays from Week 1 of last season, so Rosenthal goes with the safe choice. I’m sure it will work out fine.”
Touché, Sessler. After all, picking a player who has already made a big impact to make a big impact seems a bit on the wimpy side. It’s all a matter of perspective, though Rosenthal did add a bold prediction to his pro-Brown stance.
“Here’s what I’ll say,” he said. “He’ll outgain Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd.”