Rookie Spotlight: Noah Brown, Ohio State University
Height: 6’ 2”
Weight: 222 lbs
Hands: 9 1/8”
Arm: 31 3/4”
40 yard dash: 4.55 – 4.57 (pro-day)
NFL Comparison: Terrelle Pryor-like upside, probably more like Brandon LaFell
-dominating athletic presence
-excellent speed for a big receiver
-tracks the ball well
-can play all over the field
-history of injury
-only played two years of college ball
-raw route runner on film + finished bottom-half of receivers on our 2017 combine on-field scorecard
Scouting Notes: Ohio State’s Noah Brown surprised a lot of people when he left school and entered the draft after a college career that pretty much amounted to one full season – and almost half of those stats came in one game. The aforementioned game was against Oklahoma last year, and it was impressive to say the least. Brown racked up 72 yards and 4 TDs on 5 receptions versus the Sooners in a route, showing off his imposing field presence and sticky-tape hands. He dominated the Sooners’ hapless corners with his thick but malleable frame on numerous endzone fades, one of which he actually caught against the back of his defender, grasping the ball with ease throughout the “circus” catch.
Brown isn’t all beastly though. He possesses straight-line speed that would be suitable for a receiver two inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter than him, posting either a 4.55 or 4.57 40 time at OSU’s pro-day. In addition to the speed, Brown can track the ball very well through the air – again, you can see this on display in the OU game. Virtually all of his TDs were over his shoulder, and most of them were contested. And though Brown was used in a very specific way during that game, he played all over the field during his time at OSU, even playing out of the H-back position on occasion.
The question is, can you extrapolate a comprehensive player profile from such a limited sample of gameplay? Brown only had 32 receptions for 402 yards and 7 TDs in his only year as a starter in 2016. Just to put that into context, fellow draft eligible receiver Josh Reynolds had 61 receptions for 1,039 yards and 12 TDs in 2016 – and Reynolds has two more full seasons to back it up. Brown missed all of 2015 with a broken leg that he injured in camp. His 2014 season is negligible, as he wasn’t a starter and had literally one reception for 9 yards that year. Can anyone think that’s even enough time on the field to master the route tree in traffic?
Fantasy Outlook: Some receiver-needy team will take a gamble on the raw Brown. His athleticism and natural ball skills will be too hard to ignore for long. That being said, there are enough other more accomplished receivers in the draft worth taking a shot on to rely on him being taken before the 4th round. It seems highly unlikely that Brown will make an immediate impact in the NFL, but he could develop into a possession type receiver who can stretch the field and dominate the redzone. He’s worth a speculative add late in dynasty formats, albeit one that comes with more upside than your run-of-the-mill late-round flier. We’re somewhat excited to take a player of Brown’s ilk in the 4th round of traditional 12-team, 4-round rookie drafts if he falls to a decent situation.
Quotable from the Combine:
How tough a decision was it for you to leave OSU early?
A very tough decision. It involved my support system, my family, a lot of prayer. But first, I believe in my ability 100 percent. I feel I’m somebody who belongs at this level. In 2015 I broke my leg and lost a year of being able to play. With the NFL, this opportunity is such a short window. Even though I didn’t have the stats that most people have, I made big-time plays in big-time situations. When my number was called, I made that play. I decided to come out and earn my keep in the NFL.
Production after Oklahoma game wasn’t what you want, but you said you weren’t frustrated. Is that true?
I would say that is true. I focus on controlling what I can control. Unfortunately, I’m not a play-caller. I can only execute the play to the best of my ability. I tried to o that. I took a lot of pride in what I did – blocking or whatever it was – to the best of my ability. Putting that on film can go a long way.
Did the injury play a role in you taking your shot at NFL while you can?
Absolutely. That was one of the biggest parts of my decision. When I was hurt, I realized how quickly football could be taken away. This is the dream of my childhood. So I decided that with everything I did last year and being injured the year before that, this was the best opportunity.
When did you decide to turn pro?
It was definitely something I wanted to do for a while now. I feel it was a matter of whether or not the opportunity presented itself. With the information I got, talking to my family and talking to my coaches, that it would be all right to do this. I feel I belong here. I’m comfortable with my decision.
Was the change in offensive coordinator and knowing you’d have to adjust a factor in your decision?
That wasn’t too much of a factor to me. At the end of the day, Urban Meyer is the head coach and he’s going to run his ship the way he wants his ship run. I haven’t spoken with the new coaches too much. It was a decision I made with my family and that was about it.
A lot of people were surprised you left. Feel you have something to prove?
No I do not, actually. Those people are not the ones who are going to draft me. They weren’t the ones who got me to Ohio State. I focus on doing what I need to do and what’s best for my situation. Hopefully, I’ll turn doubters into believers, but that’s not really my concern.
Biggest questions NFL teams have had about you?
Mostly about why I decided to come out and just talking football. That’s my favorite thing to do and I feel when I get to talk football, that’s when I excel. I’m very confident in my football ability and my football I.Q. and feel I’m able to impress people with that.
There are a lot of questions about both you and Curtis Samuel. Do you talk much?
Me and Curt communicate a lot. we don’t talk too much about the opinions of other people. We both know what we’re able to do. We’re both very confident in our ability. It’s let’s go out and do what we’ve been doing for 21 years and that’s playing football how we know how to play and the rest will take care of itself.
I would say his athleticism. He’s so fluid in all his movements. He’s got great recovery speed. He can play off and he can play press and he can come up in the run game and hit as well. there’s nothing you can point your finger at and say he can’t do this better than anyone in the draft.
What are your expectations for the draft?
I feel like whoever picks me up is going to get someone who comes in and competes and works hard and tries to have a winning impact in anything they do. I’m not too sure right now where I might go in the draft. That’s going to a result of how I work out and how I do at pro day. I’ve been putting all my energy and focus into killing those two workouts.
When you left, what was your interaction with Meyer?
It was good. He wished me the best and thanked me for the work I did. I thanked him for getting me to where I am because Coach Meyer and Coach Smith played a huge role in the player I am now. it was a good conversation.
Is your combine workout more important because your resume is thinner?
I think it’s important to go out and show that I’m a good football player. To catch the ball and run good routes. it only takes one team. If you can catch the eye of somebody, it’s going to be a good situation.
When did you feel full healthy last year?
Toward the middle of the season I started to feel like myself again. Right now, I feel completely healthy. I feel I’m probably in the best shape I’ve been in. I’m excited for what’s to come. I’m not running 40 here. I’ll run at pro day.
How were you tested mentally and physically at OSU?
I would say it was a little bit of both. The minute you step into Ohio State, you’re tested mentally and physically. You’re pushed to your limits and you’re forced to evolve as a person and a player. I feel like there’s no one thing or event that can bring me down because I’ve been through it all at Ohio State. It taught me the right way to handle things.
Why did OSU’s passing game struggle so much and how did new coaches play role in your decision?
The new coaches didn’t really play a part in me taking a shot now. I think we have a lot of talent like we did last year. We’ve got another year under our belt. We have players like Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin and Bin Victor, who are goin to come in and do an awesome job. I think we’ll show a lot of improvement in the passing game next year.
What went wrong?
I haven’t spent too much time looking back on that…
Mel Kiper and others have questioned your decision. Your thoughts on that? (couldn’t hear the question very well, so I’m guessing what it was)
I think that’s what this process is about. When I go on the field tomorrow and catch routes, that’s when he’ll see why I did it. That’s what I plan on proving, that I’m a football player who belongs here. When I hear stuff like that, I know that the process is going to solve those questions. I’m not too worried about it.
Sounds like you haven’t had second thoughts about coming out?
No, sir. You can’t second-guess this kind of situation. This is a life-changing event. You can’t go into it unsure of should I have done this or not. You have to be fully committed and ready to do whatever it takes and that’s what I’ve been from the beginning. I hoped to have the best career I could possibly have and that would probably lead to being out in three years. The opportunity arose and that’s how it happened.
What did Oklahoma game mean to you?
It meant everything. It was a big game, our first real test on the road as a young team. You want to have a winning impact and I was able to do that that game on a big stage. It definitely felt good.
Was it an emotional game?
It was definitely a little emotional. It was the first time I felt I was back, like I was all right, I’m back to where I was out.
How often do you watch the circus catch?
It was all over the Internet. But by myself not too many times. I was able to make that play but I was really focused on the next week.