The New England Patriots reportedly had a sit-down this week with one of the top wide receivers in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Ole Miss wideout A.J. Brown, who’s projected as a first- or early second-round pick, met with the Patriots ahead of the Rebels’ pro day Friday, according to James Palmer of NFL Media.
Though college teammate D.K. Metcalf has received more attention during the pre-draft process for his freakish athleticism, Brown was far more productive at Ole Miss, catching 85 passes for 1,320 yards and six touchdowns in 12 games last season to Metcalf’s 26 for 569 and five in seven contests.
Brown also put up big numbers as a true sophomore in 2017, posting a 75-1,252-11 stat line. He earned first-team All-SEC honors both seasons.
At 6-foot, 226 pounds, Brown is a big-bodied slot receiver who could fit in well with the Patriots, who’ve swung and missed on several free agent slot options this offseason. His NFL.com draft profile likens him to JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ breakout star.
From NFL.com draft expert Lance Zierlein:
“Slot bully with rare combination of brawn and quickness that allows him to separate with both power and foot quickness. Brown has the size and demeanor to take on a relatively heavy workload as a safety blanket for a young quarterback in a ball-control passing attack. He’ll see an upgrade in athlete across from him, but he has the feet and body control to uncover and create windows as a premium route-runner.”
The unofficial 6.89-second three-cone drill — which measures change-of-direction skills and short-area quickness — Brown ran Friday would have ranked sixth among receivers at the NFL Scouting Combine. (He only participated in the 40, bench press and jumps at the combine.)
For a Patriots team that boasts six selections in the first three rounds and needs to replenish its diminished receiving corps, Brown could be an enticing option at No. 32.
That would represent a departure from the team’s usual draft strategy, however: New England has not selected a single receiver in the first round since Bill Belichick arrived in 2000 and has drafted just one in the first three rounds since 2010 (Aaron Dobson, 52nd overall, 2013).
The Patriots’ depth chart at receiver currently consists of Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, Bruce Ellington, Maurice Harris, Braxton Berrios, Damoun Patterson and special teamer Matthew Slater.