Eagles 2022 season: A.J. Brown on list of most important players

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Exciting Eagles newcomer takes a top spot on list of most important players originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Over the next few weeks leading up to training camp, we’ll be counting down the top 25 most important Eagles for the 2022 season.

25. Quez Watkins
24. Gardner Minshew
23. T.J. Edwards
22. Marcus Epps
21. Landon Dickerson
20. Jake Elliott
19. Brandon Graham
18. Jordan Davis
17. Kyzir White
16. Avonte Maddox 
15. Nakobe Dean
14. Fletcher Cox
13. James Bradberry
12. Miles Sanders
11. Josh Sweat
10. DeVonta Smith
9. Dallas Goedert
8. Javon Hargrave
7. Jordan Mailata
6. Darius Slay
5. Lane Johnson
4. A.J. Brown

The Eagles had the 25th-ranked passing offense in the NFL last season but most people expect them to be considerably better in 2022.

A.J. Brown is the reason why.

Think about it. Who else did the Eagles add on that side of the ball this offseason? Sure, Zach Pascal is a solid addition as depth player but the Eagles are basically bringing back the same offense that ranked 25th in passing last year but this time with Brown. And we all expect to see a big jump.

That’s how important his draft-day addition was for the Eagles.

Plenty of folks thought the Eagles were going to use one of their first-round picks on a receiver and they kind of did. They used the 18th-overall pick in a trade to acquire Brown and then gave him a four-year deal worth $100 million, $57 million of which is guaranteed.

It was a huge splash. It was a huge surprise.

And pretty soon we’ll see how much it all pays off.

Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni is clearly excited about the move. General manager Howie Roseman on draft night told a story that he and Sirianni sat down to watch game tape of Brown when they were thinking about trading for him. Halfway through the first game, Sirianni got up and said he had already seen enough. He told Roseman he was going to get something to eat.

“Yeah, excited to have him on this team,” Sirianni said. “He plays with great play strength. This guy, this is a strong man. He's quick for a big guy, and he catches everything. Those are things that really stick out from his tape. There's no projection there. It's like, ‘Well, this is what he's going to be in the NFL.’ No, you've seen it. You've seen it for three years now. And it's just exciting to put on his tape and watch him.

“So can't tell you how excited we are to be able to work with him on that offensive staff and have him on this football team, and he can help us become a better football team.”

Brown, who recently turned just 25, was a second-round pick by the Titans out of Ole Miss back in 2019. In his first three NFL seasons, Brown has 185 catches for 2,995 yards and 24 touchdowns. The only other players to put up those numbers in the last three years: Davante Adams, Stefan Diggs, Travis Kelce, Cooper Kupp, Tyreek Hill, Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf and Mike Evans. Brown is in elite company.

And at 6-foot-1, 226 pounds, Browns is big and strong and powerful and fast. He can play outside and in the slot. And he’s known as one of the better receivers in the NFL after the catch.

He’s just the type of player who can unlock the potential of quarterback Jalen Hurts and of Sirianni’s offense.

Brown’s best season came in 2020 when he caught 70 passes for 1,075 yards and 11 touchdowns on the way to a Pro Bowl appearance. But he’s been a dynamic player throughout his three seasons in the NFL.

Although he played just 13 games last season, Brown ranked as the No. 5 overall receiver in the NFL, according to ProFootballFocus.

Brown and Hurts have been very close since Brown’s recruiting visit to Alabama and the two have stayed close throughout the years. Even though they never officially practice together until Brown became an Eagle, Hurts has thrown to his best friend plenty of times before. The two are looking forward to playing together in 2022.

“I see a guy (Hurts) who is talented, believes in himself, has a strong arm, he’s on time,” Brown said. “This is all just coming from me all the times we’ve worked together. I think the sky’s the limit for him.

“I’m going to go to bat for him every Sunday because he’s my friend. It’s a different mentality you bring when you’re playing for somebody that’s important to you. It’s not about yourself no more. You’re playing for someone else. I’m going to go above and beyond for him and this team.”

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