When to Draft Antonio Brown

The Footballguys staff gives thoughts on when to draft Oakland's top wide receiver

This week, Antonio Brown returned to the Oakland Raiders. Before that, he garnered a large amount of press for a variety of reasons: his frostbitten feet, his desire to keep wearing his non-league-approved helmet, and simply staying away from the team during training camp.

As with Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon III, we wondered how much concern there was in the community about Elliott and Gordon not being on the field when the season begins.

Then, we asked our staff these questions on Brown's situation.

August is drafting season, and you might be drafting right now. How do you approach Brown in your drafts? Are you worried about him missing games? What round is a good spot for him? Are there dates in August where your concern will increase? If you are drafting right now, what are you doing with Antonio Brown?

Ryan Hester

I have dropped Brown in my rankings since the feet and helmet issues. And considering the fact that he wasn't very high for me prior to that, I don't think I'll be drafting him on any of my teams. The main reason I had him ranked lower than the consensus was moving to a lesser team with a new quarterback.

Even if he moves past the recent distractions and is healthy enough (and content with his equipment) to play in Week 1, the original chemistry concerns still remain. The time missed with Derek Carr so far in camp will have a lasting impact on Brown and the Raiders. A slow start seems inevitable at this point. And that's not what I want from a second or third-round investment.

I have Brown as a low-end WR2 now, somewhere in the WR19-21 range, near the likes of Chris Godwin and Cooper Kupp. I'm sure he'll be selected by someone else in my leagues before that point. In fact, I'm hopeful he is. I'd rather have a younger player with upside who is already an established piece of his offense.

Mark Wimer

I agree with Ryan Hester's take 100%. Antonio Brown's bizarre behavior since relocating to Oakland (and it is bizarre - improper procedure for a treatment to his feet, resulting in a serious injury? Making a fuss about which helmet he wears? Threatening retirement?) has shifted my perception of Brown from "Extremely talented and driven to excel" to "Extremely talented and now a Terrell Owens-level diva relying on his talent to cash in".

Diva players wind up alienating their teammates and then complaining about the bed that they have made for themselves in the locker room. We've seen this story play out before with Owens (as one example), and it wasn't pretty at the end. And the Pittsburgh debacle is looking worse and worse for Brown as the months go by - diva-level behavior from Brown, indeed.

Is Brown near the end of his run as an elite level NFL wide receiver? Maybe, maybe not - but as Ryan pointed out all the conditions for an abrupt fall are in place this year.

I will not risk the premium-round (1-3 round) pick it will take to roster Brown due to all the red flags we're seeing in the intangibles department.

Jason Wood

I agree with the sentiment Ryan and Mark have laid out. I'm not going to roster Antonio Brown on many rosters unless it's a league where everyone discounts him far beyond his consensus average draft position. While I don't necessarily agree in dropping him toward the end of the WR2 tier, as Ryan suggests, it's a semantic debate since we both recommend avoiding him.

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