John Brown is a soft-spoken guy, but his play at Ravens training camp should scream to fantasy football owners. Here’s to hoping your competition doesn’t see this.
The Ravens’ new free-agent wide receiver is tearing it up with big plays in practice, which he continued Saturday with three gorgeous catches. Despite top-flight competition from Baltimore’s talented cornerbacks, it’s become almost routine at this point for Brown to have the play of the day.
He’s also transferred it to the game. In his one series of action Thursday night versus the Los Angeles Rams, Brown caught a 17-yard pass over the middle, helping to overcome a penalty.
“’J.B.’ is electric, man,” fellow wide receiver Willie Snead IV said after Saturday’s practice. “He’s done a lot of things great since we stepped on the field here.”
Here’s the evidence:
What’s been notable about Brown is that he’s made plays in every sort of way. It’s not just that the Pittsburg State speedster, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds, has caught a bunch of fly routes.
The 5-foot-11 wideout has blown by cornerbacks with his speed, but he’s also elevated to snag catches overtop defensive backs, made tough grabs over the middle through contact, snagged back-shoulder passes along the sideline and more.
Head Coach John Harbaugh was asked Saturday whether he knew that Brown, who signed a one-year contract this offseason, was more than just a big-play threat.
Harbaugh remembered watching Brown in 2015 during his breakout season when he topped 1,000 receiving yards. Specifically, Harbaugh recalled his game against the Ravens on Monday Night Football. Brown caught four passes for 65 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown and 35-yard snag.
“Seeing him on the field, in person … wow,” Harbaugh said. “It was an eye-opening experience, because he ran a 7-route just as smooth and fast as I’ve ever seen one run. And that gets your attention. I never forgot that.
“So, you kind of expect that coming in, but then to see, it’s not just the 7 routes. It’s not just the 9 routes or the post routes. It’s the comebacks. It’s the outs. It’s the stops, the snags. It’s the drives. It’s the shallow crosses. All those routes, he runs very well. He’s a complete receiver.”
Brown didn’t replicate that 2015 production the past two years, in part because of injuries. In 2016, had 39 catches for 517 yards and two scores. Last year, he posted 21 catches for 299 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games (five starts).
The Ravens are banking on Brown having a rebound season, and by all indications thus far, it looks like it’s going to happen.
“I’m just really, really happy for him that he’s actually healthy, and he’s making plays like that,” Snead said. “That’s really good for the whole offense. Just to be able to stretch the field like that, it opens up so much for not only the running backs and the receivers like me underneath, but for ‘Crab’ [Michael Crabtree] and everybody else.”