Receiver A.J. Brown Didn't Win Offensive Rookie of the Year, But Brown – and the Titans – Have Plenty to Smile About

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NASHVILLE – Titans receiver A.J. Brown didn't win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award at NFL Honors over the weekend, but he still has plenty to smile about after an impressive debut season.

And the future is bright for the team's second-round pick from Ole Miss, according to several former NFL receivers – including a Hall of Famer – interviewed in Miami leading up to Super Bowl LIV.

The retired players also shared their thoughts on what Brown will be facing in 2020, and how he could get better.

"I think we are looking at probably one of the next best great receivers in our National Football League," said nine-year pro James Jones, who spent eight seasons with the Packers. "When I watch A.J. Brown, what I get from it is, no matter where the football is, it's his ball. If you don't wrap him up, you aren't going to tackle him – his yards after catch are special. But the most impressive thing about it all is – inside, outside, in the backfield – he went to work. And for you to be that big of a body and to be able to move around like that as a rookie, and be able to make all the plays that he made, that is special. And when I watch him as a rookie, knowing that he still has a lot to learn, knowing that when he comes in in year two the game is going to slow down for him that much more and they can move him around and use him in so many different ways, that is scary, man.

"You are looking at one of the next best in A.J. Brown."

Hall of Famer Michael Irvin said he was impressed with Brown's attitude when he met him at the NFL Combine.

Quarterback Kyler Murray, who was selected No.1 in the 2019 NFL Draft, by the Cardinals, ended up being selected as the league's Offensive Rookie of the Year at the NFL Honors with 26.5 votes.

Brown finished third in the voting, with 9.5 votes, also behind Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, who received 13 votes.

"You know what I love about that kid?," Irvin said of Brown. "At the Combine, he came up to Steve Smith and I and said, 'You guys are sleeping on me. I am going to show you guys that you are sleeping on me.' And I was like 'OK, you are going to win Rookie of the Year, right?' Well, he actually is the rookie of the year (in my mind). So he said it, and then he went out and got it done, and I can appreciate that. I have really grown fond of him, just watching him play. And I think it is just the beginning of it, because he is such a big, strong, fast dude and he loves to play. He is going to be a beast."

Brown was a playmaker in 2019 for the Titans.

Brown led all rookies with 1,051 receiving yards in 2019, and he also had eight touchdown receptions among his 52 catches, and he added 60 rushing yards with another score.

Brown became the first rookie since Hall of Famer Randy Moss (1998) to have a minimum of 50 catches, 1,000 receiving yards and five touchdowns while averaging 17-plus yards per catch, plus four touchdown catches of 50-plus yards.

Brown was the only NFL rookie since 1970 with 1,000-plus receiving yards and an average of 20-plus yards per reception, and he led the NFL with 605 receiving yards over his final six games of the regular season.

Brown's five 100-yard games led all rookie receivers in 2019 and were the most by any NFL rookie since Amari Cooper (five) in 2015. He became the fourth rookie since 1970 with at least four touchdown receptions of 50-plus yards.

"It is like UPS, man – What can Brown do for you? He can deliver, just like them," said 11-year pro Nate Burleson, now with NFL Network. "He is a beast. That dude is strong, he's tall. He can run any route in the book. He is like the forgotten superstar. I got so frustrated that people didn't give him as much love as he deserved (heading into last year's draft). He is not afraid to go over the middle, he can high point the ball, and because of the way he looks – he is a bigger, thicker wide receiver, that's what he looks like in pads – you would assume that he is not that fast. But if he has space, he is going to take it to the crib. His future is really bright. I am a big Corey Davis fan – he is the No.1 there. But I think what A.J. Brown did this year should send a message to the entire league that he needs to be a No.1 one day."

Jones, who caught 47 passes for 676 yards and two touchdowns with the Packers in 2007, said Brown now needs to put the work in again.

Jones finished his NFL career with 433 catches for 5,861 yards and 51 touchdowns. He had his most productive seasons later in his career.

"He just has to keep grinding," Jones said of Brown. "A lot of guys in the National Football League don't train hard anymore. You train so, 'I can take care of my body, so I don't get injured,' you know what I mean? But the dudes I know that I know that don't get injured are the dudes that train hard and they run 100 routes a day, they are on the track, they are on the field, they are grinding in the weight room.

"So if I had anything to tell him, it would be to continue to grind, just like you grinded when you were coming out for the combine. … Automatically the game is going to slow down for you because it is year 2 in the system, it is year 2 of understanding, 'This is how they played me last year and what they tried to do when they came up in press coverage. This is what they tried to do when they were in zone. Now I really understand why coach is calling this play on third down.' It all starts to slow down for you, and when that starts to happen for (Brown), he could be scary, scary."

Titans Online looks back at wide receiver A.J. Brown's rookie season, which saw him catch 52 passes for 1,051 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2019. (Photos: Donald Page)

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