Every August fans watch preseason games and overanalyze every detail of every game. They see the third string quarterback lead a scoring drive and fans discuss his possible future as a starting quarterback. As fans we are all looking to play scout and find the next breakout talent.
The problem with overanalyzing preseason games is the level of competition is unclear. Often times second string players do well against the opponents second string players. That imaginary third string quarterback I mentioned earlier put together a scoring drive against the third string defense. It’s almost impossible to evaluate talent in the preseason.
I prefer to listen to general managers and scouts talk about impact rookies. Sure, sometimes you get a general manager gushing over a player just for the purpose of lifting the player’s morale. It’s hard to judge the credibility of statements general managers make about players.
Listening to Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim talk about rookie receiver John Brown is different. Usually when asked about a rookie player’s progress, a general manager will say, “He’s worked really hard for us. He’s picking things up quickly and we are happy to have him on the team.” I almost fell asleep writing that. It’s tedious to hear general managers praise every player on the planet.
Keim’s comments about Brown are sincere. In an interview Monday with Grantland NFL writer Robert Mays, Keim said: “I haven’t seen a rookie come in and do what he’s done — and it’s early still — since Anquan Boldin. This guy came through the first day, and being from Pittsburg State, has uncanny instincts, unbelievable understanding of route concepts, leverage, being in the right spot at the right time. On top of great ball skills, he has unusual speed and explosiveness. You add all that in combination, and it’s amazing this guy who came from Pittsburg State can do this. Through this part of camp, I haven’t seen any of our players cover him, and I think you’d probably be able to put on the Texans tape and realize they didn’t have anybody to cover him.”
The Boldin comparison is an easy one considering he played for the Cardinals. Brown ran a 4.3 at the combine and adds a speed element to the Cardinals receiving corps. Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd are great possession receivers but it’s always nice to have a speedy little guy to put in the slot. The 5’10 rookie from Pittsburgh State could fill that role nicely.
Cardinals rookie wideout John Brown has now been compared to T.Y. Hilton, Marvin Harrison & Anquan Boldin in the space of a week.
— Marc Sessler (@MarcSesslerNFL) August 13, 2014
As NFL writer Marc Sessler said, Brown is drawing comparisons to elite receivers. T.Y. Hilton of the Indianapolis Colts is a good comparison. Both men were third round picks who were not high on NFL radars and both are undersized speed demons.
People are wondering what kind of NFL career they can expect from Brown. It’s impossible to tell this early on in his career. He has played just one preseason game. All we know is that according to Keim, elite defensive backs like Patrick Peterson can’t cover him in practice and he’s a pleasure to watch.
That’s exactly what Brown is at this point, a pleasure to watch. It’s fun to predict where he will be in five years, especially with the uncertainty regarding Fitzgerald’s future with the Cardinals. But for now let’s just enjoy watching him dominate second string defenses and not compare him to elite receivers of the past and present.