One thing has been made abundantly clear in today’s NFL: There’s a need for speed.
The Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, centred their unstoppable offence around the league’s best speedster, Tyreek Hill. The Oakland Raiders made the 2020 NFL Draft’s fastest wide receiver, Henry Ruggs III, the first WR off the board. Clearly, there’s an identifiable trend in the way teams are building their offence.
The Baltimore Ravens are no exception. In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Ravens selected Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown 25th overall, the first WR taken in the draft. Brown didn’t run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine as he was still recovering from foot surgery. Given the quickness he demonstrated while playing at the University of Oklahoma, however, it seems likely he would have timed as the fastest WR in the class.
Just like it did at the NFL Combine, the procedure Brown underwent on his foot also affected his rookie season. Brown played the entirety of 2019 with screws in his foot, he detailed to Tyler Dunne of Bleacher Report.
That won’t be the case in 2020. This off-season, ‘Hollywood’ had both screws removed and has been able to train and function normally.
“I feel like I have a new foot,” he told Bleacher Report.
Entirely dismissing Brown’s rookie season would be foolish. He finished with 71 targets (7th among rookie WRs), 46 receptions (8th), 584 yards (8th) and seven touchdowns (T-3rd). He led the Ravens in each of the aforementioned stat categories while commanding a 39% target share of all attempts to wideouts, and a 17% target share of the team’s total passing attempts.
Even with the screws in his foot, he was able to use his speed to create separation against opposing defensive backs. In 2019, he averaged 3.0 yards of separation per target between himself and the closest defender. For perspective, Tyreek Hill averaged 3.2 separation yards per target and Diontae Johnson led all WRs with 3.6 separation yards per target.
Not too bad for a rookie who was admittedly nowhere near full health.
There’s a massive amount of uncertainty surrounding off-season training activities, training camp and the pre-season with COVID-19 looming large. Last off-season, Brown missed OTAs, mini camp and part of training camp because of his foot. In the midst of a global pandemic, however, Brown has been developing some very important chemistry with Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson as the QB-WR combo live nearby to each other in Florida.
With a digestible average-draft position of 89.44 in National Fantasy Football Championship leagues, there is substantial upside in selecting Brown. The Ravens did not add any serious threats to Brown as the team’s No. 1 wide receiver. His team and star quarterback trust that he will be able to build off a promising rookie campaign.
A healthy, second-year ‘Hollywood’ deserves your trust as a middle-round gem in fantasy football drafts.
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