A.J. Brown is quite the specimen.
The Tennessee Titans second-year wide receiver is 6-foot but plays a lot bigger than that with his 78-inch wingspan. He is 226-pounds but looks a lot larger than that with his muscular figure.
Brown is also fast. And this season, his speed and ability to pick up yards after catching the football has been more evident than ever, even with a nagging knee injury that sidelined him for games earlier this season.
“I definitely feel faster and more explosive than I have ever been,” Brown said on Friday. “I am starting to get my wheels back coming back from that knee injury. I am moving pretty good.”
In the Titans’ 27-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday, Tannehill connected with Brown on a slant pattern over the middle of the field for a 73-yard touchdown.
On what was Tennssee’s longest passing play of the season, Brown reached 21.52 miles per hour en route to the endzone. That is the fastest speed by a wide receiver this season, according to Next Gen Stats.
“He’s got really good play strength,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said on Monday. “He's got really good play speed out on the field, in pads, equipment, with the ball in his hands. That's something that you've seen from … (Brown), to be able to take those short gains or a run that you may not think it's going to go as far as it does, and they've been able to break them.”
However, Brown’s speed is hardly new or surprising to his teammates and coaches.
Last season, Brown hauled in a team-leading 52 catches for 1,051 yards and eight touchdowns. Among all rookie wide receivers, the 2019 second-round selection was first in receiving yards and total touchdowns (nine) and tied for the most receiving touchdowns.
On many of those 52 receptions, Brown showed off his after burners, especially on scoring plays.
Of his 12 receiving touchdowns to date, five have come on plays longer than 45 yards (four of them were longer than 50 yards). No wide receiver drafted in 2019 has more.
He scored the longest touchdown of his career -- 91 yards -- in the Titans’ Week 14 victory over the Oakland Raiders. Brown added a rushing touchdown in Week 16 against the New Orleans Saints when he came across the formation and took a pitch from Ryan Tannehill 51 yards to the endzone.
A rundown of the longest scoring plays of A.J. Brown’s NFL career:
“He has no issue going inside, that's something that he doesn't flinch when he goes in there and takes advantage of that, quite frankly,” Vrabel said. “He’s strong after the catch, he doesn't appear to me to flinch when he goes inside.”
Brown averaged 20.2 yards per reception last season, which was second in the NFL to Mike Williams of the Los Angeles Chargers (20.4). In addition, Brown tied Percy Harvin for the highest yards after catch per reception (8.7) among wide receivers in the past decade. Only San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle had more, when he posted 9.9 YAC in 2018.
Brown has developed into a big-play weapon for more than one reason, but his speed sets him apart.
He does not believe he will be caught, either.
“...Ryan [Tannehill] made jokes. He goes, ‘You better not get caught,’” Brown said laughing. “I was like no, ‘I am not getting caught.’”