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If you wish to be a reliable franchise participant within the NFL, two issues must be true of you: It’s a must to be among the many greatest at your place, and you’ve got to have the ability to make everybody round you higher (or not less than, you must make issues simpler for them) by dint of your ability set.

There isn’t any query that each apply to Antonio Brown. His complete receiving statistics from his fifth by way of his ninth NFL seasons high another receiver in league historical past in that particular timeline-he’s the most effective ever in targets (859), receptions (576), and receiving yards (7,646). He is third in that spectrum with 59 touchdowns, behind solely Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens, and Marvin Harrison, and he is blazing a path to the Corridor of Fame as a lot as anybody within the NFL proper now.

Not dangerous for a sixth-round pick of Central Michigan.

In fact, Brown could be a Steeler for all times if he wasn’t a nuclear ache within the butt. On the mix, I heard from a number of Steelers sources telling me that, as a lot as there’s a narrative in regards to the all-over drama in Pittsburgh’s locker room, many of the off-field silliness orbits round Brown, and can accomplish that till the day he is offloaded to a different staff for no matter Steelers common supervisor Kevin Colbert can get for him.

When that happens-or, if the Steelers really determine to carry to Brown and hope all the things can work out-the discuss may simply return to what a uncommon and memorable receiver Brown nonetheless is, and the way he can fully revitalize any passing recreation within the league. Brown could proceed to get in his personal approach, and when he does, it is perhaps mentioned that when he does get in his personal approach, he is the one skilled soccer participant in a position to take action.

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I went again by way of Brown’s previous few video games with the Steelers-of course, the season finale in opposition to the Bengals wasn’t a part of that, as a result of he was inactive after blowing off practices that week. However at the same time as issues have been falling aside between the 2 events, Brown was nonetheless doing his factor to the tune of 104 catches for 1,297 yards, and a league-leading 15 touchdowns. The staff that will get Brown will not be getting the mopey Randy Moss the Raiders bought in 2005 and 2006; they’re going to as an alternative have the most effective receivers of his technology, and it is price wanting as soon as once more at how Brown is ready to try this.

Actually, the one flaw Brown has on the sector at this level in his profession is that he is not 6’5″ and 230 kilos. He is by no means going to be your greatest contested-catch man, although he is stronger than his 5’10”, 181-pound body may point out, however he additionally does not must make a ton of contested catches. Brown’s recreation is to finish the contests earlier than they start, and he does that with a supernatural mixture of pace, agility, and route consciousness. No different receiver within the league immediately is healthier at mining small openings in protection and blasting them into crater-sized holes.

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If he’s traded, Brown went out of his Steelers profession with a bang, catching 14 passes on 19 targets for 185 yards and two touchdowns. This three-yard landing exhibits how Brown can flip a choose play in a compressed house into an enormous valley for a straightforward rating. Cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and P.J. Williams do not stand an opportunity in opposition to Brown’s elevated consciousness of find out how to create house.

One other approach through which Browns separates himself from the pack, each actually and figuratively, is his capacity to regulate to the scramble drill when his quarterbacks breaks include and begins searching for targets on improvisation routes. Right here, security Von Bell has to cope with Brown’s fade route that turned again inside when Brown noticed Ben Roethlisberger rolling to his proper. Instantly, Brown in the reduction of inside and ran an excellent deep curl beneath Bell’s protection.

This 17-yard landing in opposition to the Patriots in Week 15 exhibits simply how disagreeable life will be while you’re masking Brown on a swap release-basically, when two receivers cross shortly off the road of scrimmage and run their routes in opposition to defenders who’ve to regulate to receivers they did not anticipate. Right here, receiver James Washington takes cornerback Stephon Gilmore inside on the crosser, whereas security Duron Harmon has to cope with Brown up the seam. Harmon is a superb participant, however this can be a mismatch from the pre-snap section.

Brown has lengthy been acknowledged as maybe the most effective route-runner within the recreation, and one of many extra underrated facets of this expertise is how he is in a position to completely destroy cornerbacks with leverage into his cuts-master lessons in find out how to “sink” into routes. On this 28-yard Week 13 landing in opposition to the Chargers, watch how he extends cornerback Michael Davis all around the area. Davis opens up his hips as a result of he thinks Brown’s going exterior, Brown sees that and works his approach inside after promoting the surface faux. Davis does a reputable job of recovering, however then, Brown breaks away from Davis and security Adrian Phillips with one other fairly lower to the objective put up.

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The purpose of all that is to assist reply the query, “Is Antonio Brown price excessive draft capital although he is a headache?” I’d opine that each issues are true-Brown is simply nearly as good as he is ever been, he’ll be 31 years outdated when the 2019 season begins, and there is no bodily drop-off evident. So long as he retains his head within the recreation, Brown is the very definition of a franchise player-the greatest within the enterprise at what he does, with the flexibility to make everybody round him higher at what they do.

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