I’ll be posting breakout candidate throughout the summer here at NFLmocks.com. Last year I only did a handful of guys, but I think I did very well for myself. My greatest success was predicting Navorro Bowman. This year I’ll look to dig in deeper and find less obvious gems as I tended to focus on higher round players last year (C.J. Spiller, Linval Joseph were some of the few I did last year). I’ll start with a guy I expect a lot out of in the 2012 NFL season-Vincent Brown who the Chargers drafted out of San Diego State in the third round by the San Diego Chargers. I’m not looking for guys to go off like Victor Cruz, but guys who show that they are going to become really good players in this league.
Brown entered the 2011 season off an impressive pre-draft process where he dominated the Senior Bowl. A typical scouting report of Brown would tell you that Brown was more of a football player than he was a great athlete. A player who didn’t possess great size (5’11) or great speed (4.6 8at the combine 4.57 at his proday), but just makes plays on the football. Brown believes any football that goes in the air belongs to him, and when he catches the football he knows how to head up the field and create yards after the catch. Brown possesses deceptive speed and despite his lack of elite straight line speed or size, Brown was able to make big plays last year. In his rookie season Brown only reeled in 19 receptions, but in those receptions he averaged 17.3 yards per reception. And it’s not like he boosted his average with one 99 yard touchdown reception–he had no reception longer than 31 yards on the year.
During one stretch of the season Brown started four consecutive games and in those games he had 13 of his 39 receptions–and had 122 of his total yards–nothing to put him in th ehall of fame or anything, but it was al mot more about what he flashed. Brown made some spectacular catches last year and showed a bit of Victor Cruz in him. Cruz exploded for the Giants in the 2010 preseas0n, before he missed almost the entire season with an injury. In 2011 Cruz dominated the league despite not having elite track speed, or terrific size. Where Brown reminds me a bit of Victor Cruz is his competitiveness for the football. Cruz’s biggest strength on the football field might just be that he believes every ball that goes in the air belongs to him–and I see that in Brown. I think Cruz is quicker and much better with the ball in his hands. Also like Cruz, this year Brown is likely to find a real opportunity to play every game with a really good quarterback. I’m not saying Brown will have the kind of year Victor Cruz had in 2011, just that both players are terrific at high pointing the football and competing for the football despite a lack of dominating size. With Vincent Jackson leaving in free agency (though they signed Meachem) Brown has a real opportunity to showcase his abilities-and getting a full year in a training camp after coming from San Diego State won’t hurt either. Teams will be keying on Malcolm Floyd who kind of had his breakout year last year, and the Chargers have added the speedy Robert Meachem which should theoretically open things up for Brown.
Vincent Brown breakout candidate #1.
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