Davante Adams. JuJu Smith-Schuster. Michael Thomas. What do these players have in common? They are all great wide receivers taken in the second round of the NFL draft. Why is this important? Because in a few years, a new name will be added to the list. Can the Raiders find their own?
Despite having first-round speed (4.33 unofficial 40 yard dash) and being named the 10th fastest player in college football by NFL.com, Marquise Brown is typically placed in the second round of the draft. Brown comes in at 5’10” and a feather-like 168 pounds. For reference, his cousin, the Antonio Brown is the same height, but has 20 pounds on Marquise. Brown is not built like the aforementioned receivers, and he will not fare well in shedding corners at the line of scrimmage or in jump-ball situations. Brown has also struggled to keep his weight at 168, let alone raise it. But, weight is not a constant and it can be built up. If Amari Cooper can put on 40 pounds in an offseason, Brown should not struggle to put on 20, especially now having accessibility to NFL quality weight training and nutrition systems.
Brown fits on the Raiders because of his explosive speed, with explosive being the key word. Longtime fans of the Raiders may remember Al Davis passing on Michael Crabtree to take Darrius Heyward-Bey due to his speed, but if the Raiders take Brown at 35, they will not be passing up a better receiver this time.
Brown has received criticisms due to his combination of speed and size, making him unable to run certain routes proficiently, but streaks, posts, hitches, bubble screens, and crossing routes are all in his wheelhouse. “Hollywood” has great control over his speed once the ball is in his hand and is incredibly shifty with an uncanny ability to make defenders miss.
Should the Raiders go back to last season’s ways of passes with low average depth of target, Brown will be a great addition due to his ability to blow by and around defenses. Short “in” routes, cutting between the defensive line and the linebackers, and screens would be ideal if Derek Carr cannot find time in the pocket to go through his progressions.
Do the Raiders need another wide receiver right now? Perhaps not, but these picks are investments. When the wide receiver depth chart is flipped upside down in a few years when Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams’ contracts expire, whether or not they are resigned, Hollywood will be primed and ready to shine for the Raiders.
Again, Brown is not a typical receiver. Currently, at his weight, Brown will not survive as a wide receiver. Sitting at 170 pounds, soaking wet, seems ideal for a kick returner, but Brown looks for more.
Taking Marquise Brown is certainly a great risk. However, with great risk comes great speed. The Raiders could look to Brown with the 35th pick.