How about this — an Antonio Brown article that doesn’t have anything to do with lawsuits, police reports, or Instagram videos. That’s refreshing.
Pro Football Focus put together a list of each team’s best value draft picks since 2006. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s a no-brainer answer. Selecting a superstar receiver like Antonio Brown in the sixth round of the 2010 draft. Here’s what author Mike Renner wrote about AB:
“While Brown has kept himself out of the limelight this offseason, don’t let his recent transgressions distract you from how good he was at his peak. He notched 100-plus receptions in six straight seasons and averaged 1,524 yards a year over that span.”
Renner’s point is correct. Unfortunately, AB will be remembered for all the antics and drama that got him shipped out of Pittsburgh and nearly ended his professional career. But before all that, he was the game’s best wide receiver. An unheralded pick out of Central Michigan, Brown was thought of being too small, not a great athlete, lacking any special or defining trait. Everyone who said as much, he quickly proved wrong. Brown got stronger, filling out his frame, increasing his speed, and became the game’s most polished route runner. His first NFL touch was a touchdown, taking a reverse on a kick return against the Titans for a score.
He became a big part of the Steelers’ offense his sophomore season, catching 69 passes for over 1,100 yards and two touchdowns. Brown broke out in 2013, putting up a 110/1,499/8 line before upping the ante the following year, leading the league in receptions (129) and yards (1,698). He would lead the league in receptions in 2015, yards in 2017, and touchdowns in 2018. Brown made seven Pro Bowls, four All-Pro teams, and defenses never had a good answer for stopping him.
All of that came crashing down after the 2018 and well…you know the rest. But that doesn’t detract from Brown being one of the greatest sixth-round picks ever, right up there (though still behind) Tom Brady and one of the best draft day gems the Steelers have ever uncovered. Former WRs Coach Scottie Montgomery has taken credit for banging the table to draft AB. It’s unclear exactly how true that story is.
Regardless, not only is Brown the best value pick for the Steelers, he’s one of the top ones across the league. In Pittsburgh, some other great values since ’06 include:
William Gay/CB: 160 games, 86 starts, 11 INTs with 5 TDs (fifth round pick — 2007)
Kelvin Beachum/OT: 39 starts, including all 16 games in 2014 (seventh round pick — 2012)
Vince Williams/ILB: 121 games, 69 starts, 479 total tackles, 20.5 sacks (sixth round pick — 2013)
But none, of course, hold a candle to Brown’s accomplishments.