I want to begin this post by saying that I really look forward to reading the annual Hot 150 post that Gil Brandt, NFL.com’s senior analyst, puts out right before the draft takes place. Additionally, I love to listen to Brandt talk about draft prospects whenever he appears on SiriusXM NFL Radio. With that disclaimer now out of the way, I really believe that Brandt missed the mark in his latest post that included him attempting to identify the best team fits for this year’s five top wide receiver prospects.
In that post, Brandt has Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise Brown as this year’s second-best wide receiver prospect in the draft and he believes the perfect fit for him in the NFL is with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
JuJu Smith-Schuster is in place to take the No. 1 receiver reins from Antonio Brown. But who’s going to fill in for Smith-Schuster as the No. 2 guy? The good news for Pittsburgh is that general manager Kevin Colbert has an established track record of uncovering pass-catching gold in the draft, including Martavis Bryant (fourth-round pick in 2014), Mike Wallace (third-round pick in 2009), Emmanuel Sanders (third-round pick in 2010) and, of course, both Antonio Brown (sixth-round pick in 2010) and Smith-Schuster (second-round pick in 2017). Marquise Brown projects as the perfect player to slot next to Smith-Schuster. The Oklahoma product has explosive quickness and is a proven playmaker, having posted 1,318 yards (at 17.6 yards per catch) in 2018. Though he was unable to run the 40 at the combine or his pro day after undergoing Lisfranc surgery (everything looked good at his medical re-check in Indianapolis), I’d peg him as having sub-4.4. speed. Every time he touches the football, the results are electric — with Smith-Schuster as the muscle and Marquise Brown as the speed threat, this pairing would help take the sting out of Antonio Brown’s acrimonious exit.
In case you’ve been away from the internet for quite a while, Marquise Brown is the younger cousin of now former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, who was traded to the Oakland Raiders in March. If that’s not enough of a reason for the Steelers to strongly consider not drafting the Oklahoma product this year, perhaps the player’s measurables might be another good reason not to.
Marquise Brown measured in at this year’s scouting combine at 5093, 166-pounds with 30 1/2-inch arms and 9-inch hands. To put that into some sort of perspective, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill measured in at the 2016 scouting combine at 5081, 185-pounds and Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton measured in at the 2012 combine at 5094, 183-pounds. Additionally, Tavon Austin, who is now with the Dallas Cowboys after originally being selected in the first-round of the 2013 NFL draft out of West Virginia by the St. Louis Rams, measured in at the combine that year at 5084, 174-pounds.
Like Hill and Hilton, Marquise Brown was a dynamic playmaker in college as he registered 132 receptions for 2,413 yards and 17 touchdowns in his two seasons at Oklahoma. That said, he has now had his first serious injury, one to his foot that required Lisfranc surgery. As a result of that injury and subsequent surgery, he was unable to do anything at this year’s scouting combine or at Oklahoma’s pro day. That rehab, by the way, will probably not allow Marquise Brown to be able to practice fully until training camp gets underway in July.
Marquise Brown’s game is predicated on his great speed and ability to get a good release off the line at the snap of the football. He doesn’t have much of a catch radius and rarely do you see him make contested catches when reviewing his college tape. He mostly played on the outside at Oklahoma and thus it will be interesting to see how he fares in a similar role at the NFL level without him possessing very much functional playing strength.
In closing, while Marquise Brown’s speed and big play capability will certainly be attractive to a lot of NFL teams, he still figures to be a very interesting case study just the same due to his ultra diminutive stature. That concern, along with potential concerns about him becoming an ultra-diva like his cousin Antonio Brown should he have immediate success at the NFL level should be more than enough reasons for the Steelers to stay far away from Marquise Brown should an opportunity to select him ultimately present itself.