Steelers’ Antonio Brown rated toughest receiver to cover
Antonio Brown ascended to the top of the wide receiver class with a prolific 2014 season. In 2015, he’s picked up right where he left off, and was just rated as the receiver opposing defensive backs would least prefer to cover.
Former NFL defensive backs Matt Bowen and Louis Riddick, now analysts for ESPN, had this to say about Brown in their rankings:
Bowen: How do you limit this guy? Brown is electric. That’s the best way I can describe him when looking at his change of direction ability, burst off the ball and speed to go get it. I see Brown as the top route runner in today’s game, with the lateral quickness to separate at the break and the acceleration to straight-up pull away from coverage. Play press? Yeah, good luck. He will embarrass you on the release and then wave as he runs by. No argument here: Brown is the toughest matchup at the wide receiver position.
Riddick: Brown’s compact stature and exceptional pound-for-pound strength catches many DBs off guard when they first match up against him. And then when you add the short-area quickness, play speed and competitiveness, he becomes a 60-minute nightmare. Like Matt said, Brown is a magician at the line against press coverage. He can stop, start and separate better than anyone on the short-to-intermediate routes and plays big on deep routes, which allows him to win jump ball situations. A true self-made All-Pro, Brown is second to none.
Since taking over as the Steelers’ No. 1 receiver in 2013, Brown has 273 receptions for 3,675 yards and 23 touchdowns. He has 37 more catches and 265 more yards than any other receiver during that span, according to ESPN.com.
Brown had just five catches for 42 yards in his first game without Ben Roethlisberger last Thursday. He’ll have to iron out his timing with Michael Vick to start popping off the stat sheet again.