Wide Receiver John Brown owes his current draftable status largely to the NFL Combine. There he burned a 4.34 40 yard time, second only to Brandin Cooks' 4.33 among wide receivers, and 3rd behind Dri Archer and Cooks in the entire Combine. Speaking of Cooks, if you like him and want him on the Jets, but are afraid he might not be selected by Gang Green, Brown might be an interesting consolation prize. Cooks is 5' 10", 189 lbs, ran a 4.33, with a 36" vertical and a 120" broad jump. Brown is 5' 10", 179 lbs, ran a 4.34, with a 36.5 inch vertical and a 119" broad jump. Now, obviously Brown is not the football player Cooks is; this comparison is just intended to open your eyes to the fact that he is somewhat comparable athletically, and he is blazing fast.
Brown is a player who overcame academic problems and death in his family to get where he is today. His older brother was shot, and ultimately died from his wounds, in a bar fight. You can learn a little more about this story in the video at the end of this article.
As for his football skills, Brown was ultra productive at tiny Pittsburg State, a Division II school. That's Pittsburg, without the "h", as in Pittsburg, Kansas.
The first time Brown ever touched the football as a member of the Pittsburg State Gorillas, he took a punt return 84 yards for a touchdown. He went on as a sophomore in 2011 to catch 61 passes for 1,216 yards with 12 receiving touchdowns. Brown averaged 13.7 yards per punt return and had three returns for a touchdown.
During the 2012 season Brown had 63 receptions for 973 yards and eight touchdowns and returned 28 punts for a 15.4-yard average and a touchdown.
In 2013, Brown caught 61 passes for 1,198 yards with 14 touchdowns.
Bottom line, Brown was extremely productive at the Division II level. After the 2013 season Brown was invited to the East West Shrine Game, where one scout had this to say about him after a week of game practices:
John Brown of Pittsburg State thoroughly impressed once again. Today, he (and all of the receivers), got the chance to go one-on-one with defensive backs in the red zone. The coaching staff was stressing for the receivers to force the defensive back "outside of his frame" in their short area routes. Brown repeatedly beat his man, both safeties and cornerbacks. He won on an inside-out fade in the back corner, and two stutter steps outside-in that left his defender on the ground. Brown could easily make a case for himself as the best receiver at the Shrine Game, that’s how impressive he was all week.
Excellent lateral quickness, plus elite straight line speed. A smooth, confident pass-catcher with elite speed. Capable of changing directions well. Creative playmaker with the football with good vision. Finds space where there is no space originally. Willing and capable blocker despite lacking in size. Versatile athlete who was used as a runner, receiver, and return man.
Has good (but small) hands and can extend well for passes away from his body. Focused on the ball in the air and can slip, rebalance, secure the catch and get upfield. Runs above-average routes and is quick out of his breaks. His quickness allows him to get very good separation on routes. Is patient after the catch and on kick returns, and is able to pick his way through traffic following his blocks.
Did not face top competition in college. Dances too much in returns. Small hands, small body. Limited strength. Can occasionally lapse into body catching.
The biggest knock on Brown is his Division II background and whether he has what it takes to compete at the NFL level. Perhaps the best available evidence that he does have what it takes is his record against fellow 2014 NFL draft prospect Pierre Desir. Desir is a Division II cornerback projected to go somewhere around the 3rd round in the draft.
Brown's Pittsburg State Gorillas play in the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletic Association, the same conference as Lindenwood University, Desir's school.
Pittsburg State crushed Desir's Lindenwood 41-6 in 2013, and Brown had three receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown, plus 3 carries for 5 yards and another touchdown.
In a 44-33 loss to Desir's Lindenwood University in 2012, Brown had five catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. If these games are any evidence, Brown does not appear to have any problem facing NFL level cornerbacks.
Here's Brown at the Combine, running the gauntlet drill.
Here's a video about Brown's brother's death and how it inspires Brown:
And here's a link to some game film of Brown:
Take a look, see what you think.
Brown has met with three teams leading up to the draft: the Steelers, the Lions, and the Jets. Only one team, the Jets, has met with Brown twice. There is a pretty decent chance that in about four days John Brown will be a member of the New York Jets.