With the 91st pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the Arizona Cardinals select wide receiver John Brown of Pittsburg State. This is a Bruce Arians pick all the way, as Brown is a T.Y. Hilton-type receiver with speed to burn.
The Cardinals signed a speedy slot receiver this offseason in former Panthers, 49ers and Dolphins wideout Ted Ginn Jr. Coming off his best season as a pro receiver, Ginn signed a three-year, $9.75 million deal that—unless he's cut or traded—will keep him in Cardinal Red through the 2016 season.
But get this: Brown returns kicks as well as being a receiver. So it's possible he and Ginn will duke it out for the kick returning role and the No. 3 receiver role—perhaps down the road for the latter, at least.
Officially an Arizona Cardinal— john brown (@RIPJWALK5) May 10, 2014
I will be wearing number 12— john brown (@RIPJWALK5) May 10, 2014
Arians said Patrick Peterson's punt returns are going to be limited going forward. "And his days as a receiver might be coming to an end."— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) May 10, 2014
It seems as though Brown could get some work as a punt returner as well, if that last tweet means what it appears to mean. It makes sense to limit Patrick Peterson to just defense, because he has been average at best as a punt returner since tying the NFL record with four returns for touchdowns as a rookie in 2011.
Brown will be taking offensive and special teams snaps from Peterson, so what does that tell you about what Arians and general manager Steve Keim think of the rookie receiver? With guys like Jared Abbrederis, Bruce Ellington and Tevin Reece still on the board, Brown must have really impressed Keim and Arians at his private workout with the team.
Keim said Brown "fits the mold" that B.A. has been looking for; can return kicks, worked out privately w/AZ #CardsDraft— Craig Grialou (@CraigAZSports) May 10, 2014
That "mold" of wide receiver is, as mentioned above, a Hilton and Antonio Brown-type receiver: smaller, speedy guys with good hands and leadership qualities. Brown is 5'10" and 170 pounds and, as you can imagine, is the ultimate deep threat.
In 2013, Brown notched 61 receptions for 1,198 yards (19.6 yards per catch) and 14 touchdowns. He had another two touchdowns rushing and one more on a kick return. In all, he totaled 1,951 yards on 113 touches (receptions, carries, kick returns and punt returns), a staggering 17.3 yards per touch.
He's lightning in a bottle on the field, and if he quickly figures out the NFL game, he could make a sizable impact for the Cardinals as a rookie.