2019 Fantasy Football Rookie Preview: Marquise Brown – WR, Oklahoma
After peeling off 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns on 75 receptions last year catching passes from Kyler Murray at Oklahoma (a robust average of 17.6 yards a catch), Marquise Brown might be the most dangerous vertical threat in the class of 2019.
However, at just 5’9″ and 166 pounds, there are legitimate concerns about Brown’s ability to both beat press coverage and hold up at the NFL level. The latter concerns have been amplified a bit by a foot injury that prevented Brown from participating in the NFL Scouting Combine and Oklahoma’s Pro Day.
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As Tim Twentyman wrote for the Detroit Lions website, Brown believes those concerns are overblown and his tape speaks for itself.
“I’ll let the film speak for itself,” Brown said. “I played outside, I played inside, whatever you need. I can play outside and catch a comeback and take it to the house. I can play inside and catch an out (route) and take it to the house. So, I feel like I can play both pretty well.”
As Gavino Borquez reported for Draft Wire, that tape also shows a young receiver with speed, speed, and more speed. “Brown can take the top off and win vertically,” Borquez said. “He possesses track like speed and elite quickness that makes him a tough cover, even for top cornerbacks. Brown accelerates to top speed quickly and doesn’t need to gear down in order to break off his route with sudden change of the direction and explosion. Overall, with rare combination of speed, quickness, and natural receiving skills, Brown has the ability to make an impact early on at the next level, ideally for a team in need of a Z-receiver in a vertical passing offense.”
Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network (and just about anyone with two eyes) agreed that Brown’s speed stands out. “Brown projects as a game-breaking speed receiver in the NFL,” Crabbs said. “Brown has explosive speed and the ability to tear open secondaries in all levels of the field. Brown has tremendous quickness at the top of his routes and could be successfully implemented into many kinds of offenses, although his best usage would be as a Z-receiver in a vertical passing offense. High impact player.”
However, as with just about every other receiver in this class, Crabbs’ colleague Jon Ledyard indicates that there’s a “but” with Brown—more than one, as a matter of fact.
“Obviously,” Ledyard said, “Marquise Brown isn’t as well-rounded as some of the other top receivers in the class, but what he does well could be a real trump card in the NFL. As a vertical and post-catch threat, Brown may be the best in the class, showcasing unbelievable speed to run right by deep safeties and the elusiveness to make defenders look silly in space.”
“Still,” he continued, “he would be one of the smallest receivers in the NFL, he struggles to win in contested catch spots and his hands can be an issue. There are clear concerns with Brown’s translation to the NFL, especially nursing a fairly significant foot injury, that would give me pause in the range he has been rumored to come off the board (top 25). Ideally Brown fills a super important role in an offense rather than being an all-around No. 1 option in the passing game, but his trump card could make him a dangerous splash player in the NFL.”
Those reservations about Brown haven’t stopped many in the draft community from pegging him as a first-round pick. RJ White of CBS Sports recently mocked Brown at No. 26 to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who need weapons around new signal-caller Nick Foles.
“The Jaguars should be in all-in mode after locking in Nick Foles to go with a still top-notch defense,” White said. “The main problem? Their lack of weapons in the passing game. So after passing on pass-catchers earlier for a franchise tackle, they package two Day 2 picks to hop into the first round for the dynamic Brown, who will stretch the field.”
Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com thinks Brown could go significantly earlier than that, slotting “Hollywood” to the Washington Redskins at No. 15. “The Redskins lost Jamison Crowder in free agency and without him,” he said, “Washington might have the worst collection of receivers in the NFL. Brown has some DeSean Jackson about him and would add some excitement to an un-exciting offense.”
For Peter Schrager of NFL.com, it’s the back end of Round 1 and the second of two first-rounders for the Green Bay Packers at No. 30. “The Packers have a new offensive-minded head coach, a new offensive coordinator and a quarterback whose weapons at wide receiver left a little to be desired,” he said. “My colleague Tom Pelissero reported last week that Brown had Lisfranc surgery, which will keep the wide receiver from participating in drills at the combine and Oklahoma’s pro day. But in an era where everyone is looking for the next Tyreek Hill, a guy with Brown’s speed and playmaking ability should still go in the first round.”
Hopefully I don’t have to tell you that catching passes from Aaron Rodgers would be good for Brown’s short-term fantasy prospects—provided he can stay healthy and make a successful transition to the pros.
Marquise Brown is the Biggest Risk/Reward Play Among Rookie WR
That’s the thing. Brown’s talent and explosiveness are undeniable, and his ability to take the top off a defense and score long touchdowns portends a sky-high fantasy ceiling—the potential to single-handedly win fantasy weeks.
Think a slightly smaller Tyreek Hill.
Fun thought, ain’t it?
But there have also been smaller, speedy NFL prospects in recent years who went early in the draft in recent years and didn’t pan out, either because they couldn’t get free at the line, got pushed around or never developed as route-runners.
Think Tavon Austin.
Landing spot will play a substantial role in whether or not Brown’s in the discussion to be the first rookie wide receiver drafted in fantasy football this year. But even before we know where Brown will begin his NFL career one thing’s relatively certain.
The diminutive speedster’s shaping up as one of the bigger risk/reward plays at his position in this class.
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