Guest Contributor and NFL Draft writer, Fernando Stepensky
Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego State, 5’11 187 lbs
Strengths: Vincent Brown is by far the most underrated player in the draft. Whether it is because of his average size (6’0 195 lbs) or because he doesn’t attend a National Championship winning school (SDSU), the receiver just isn’t getting as much attention as he should.
It is no coincidence that he had 69 receptions in his senior year—this guy definitely knows how to get open and catch the ball. Nonetheless, his best attribute is getting the ball. It starts with his burst off the line; once that gunslinger says, “hike” Vincent goes 100% and gets off the line as if it were on fire. Sometimes his excellent bursts catch DBs off guard, which gives him the separation he needs to catch the ball right from the start.
The thing that is so shocking about him is his intelligence in route running. Earlier this year, in a game against TCU, he had a 50 plus yard TD reception. He ran an out and up route to perfection. This is a good sign because double moves are used often in the NFL. Also, usually wide receivers who have mastered the double move are very successful against the leagues top DBs. The quick difference in his speed caught the DB napping and created separation for the senior. He managed to get the diving reception for a touchdown. The one play embodies what Vincent Brown is all about.
The way he creates separation on a regular basis is depicted above with his off the line burst. Brown also changes speeds so quickly and he has this break/juke in the middle of his routes that absolutely baffle opposing cornerbacks; his footwork plays a large role in this. His footwork helps him get in and out of his cuts quickly and swiftly. Which is common characteristic in good route runners like him.
Sometimes he does alter his route, because he reads the defense so well. His route running intelligence must be emphasized. He just knows where to go and when to go. His instinct gives him a feel of where to go and the majority of the time, his instinct is right. That is also another aspect of his game that deserves praise, his catch in traffic. It is complicated to explain it in its entirety. It is just that his ability to adjust to the ball in traffic is truly impressive. The overlying point is he is tough and he doesn’t care if there is one defender or if there are 11, around him, he will still catch it.
Vincent Brown’s incredible hands and superb footwork combine to create a great sideline receiver. He showed off his great sideline receiving at his pro day (which I attended) and especially in his games like the one against TCU. His specialty route is the slant and the out/in route. When he does a deep out route to the sideline, it is an almost guaranteed catch.
Combining Vincent’s footwork, intelligence, route running, breaks, big reliable hands, and great toughness make him one of the most prolific receivers in the draft. Although, their has never been a prospect without his share of flaws and weaknesses.
Weaknesses: Vincent has very few flaws when it comes to before the catch. Although, after it gets to 0.2 seconds before the catch and after the catch, the flaws begin to show. His running motion is by all means “awkward”. I was at his pro day and was told by a coach and a scout that his running motion is in fact awkward. They told me, “it doesn’t look natural when he is pumping his arms”. This is something that is of concern because it could greatly affect his already weak speed.
He ran a 4.68 at the combine, which is bad for a receiver, and he ran a 4.53 at his pro day, which is average, nothing too impressive. An NFL free agent that was scheduled to work out at the pro day (didn’t because of the CBA) told me, “It is all his straight line speed, it just isn’t there.” He quite frankly is right and his coaches knew that coming in to his senior year. Very few times did you see him run a pure streak route. Normally he is given a double move route. That gives him time for separation on his excellent breaks and then, sadly, gives the DB time to catch back up once the streak starts. In the game against Utah this year he created separation just like I depicted and once he caught the ball and had 7 yards of separation, the DB started coming up toward him.
Vincent Brown’s run after the catch ability is another concern talent evaluators have to deal with. As I said his straight line speed and his running motion are awkward, but I am talking about his ball carrier vision. Throughout the tapes I have studied on him, I can always see a better opening than the one he decides to take. In the game against Navy this year he was given a screen, there were three defenders on both sides of him and a hole right between them that was quickly closing. I noticed that without having to pause the tape, he noticed it about 10 yards late when the gap was long gone and he was already on the ground. This continues in many of his games. The NFL is becoming very caught up with YAC (yards after catch) and if he doesn’t improve that aspect of his game he will not have much luck in the NFL.
Speaking of important aspects one must perfect at the wide receiver position before going to the NFL, blocking is key. A trend you are have been exposed to in recent years is multi versatile players. Basically, the more things that you can do, the more likely you are of succeeding. Something that Vincent needs to work on is his blocking. He blocks pretty well for the first half of the play, but once the running back gets close to him he almost always lets his defender get loose and tackle him. I just don’t see the effort there on his blocks. That is definitely something he needs to improve for two reasons. One, to show me he is committed and gives it 100% on every play(counting running plays). Second, it shows the coaches that they can use him every down either as a receiver or an excellent blocker
Best Fit: He would definitely be best suited on a pass first team, at least for the time being. Due to his poor blocking on run players, he wouldn’t fit very well on a run first team. Although, that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be drafted for one. The chances are high that he will go to a run first or balanced team and then he will be expected to learn blocking well!
Personally, I can see him potentially going to the Bengals, the Vikings, but the best fit could be the Arizona Cardinals.
Either the Cardinals could trade back in the third or draft him in the fourth. However, he seems to fit the team perfectly. They ran the ball a great deal last year (due to terrible quarterbacks), but this year they should have a clear-cut starter that would fit right in with Vincent Brown.
X-Factor: His X-Factor will be his blocking and his route running. That is ultimately going to make or break him. If he is on a team and he resembles his great route running and starts working on his blocking, he could be a great receiver. Blocking and route running will ultimately make or break Vincent Brown.
Where he will be drafted: Middle fourth to late fifth. People are saying that it could be in the sixth or even later, but I feel teams will realize his potential and draft him somewhere in the fourth or fifth. He will be one of those “risers” come draft day.
Where he should be drafted: He should be drafted right where I put he will be drafted. Fourth or fifth round is perfect for him. People do notice his tremendous upside, but the worry of his speed and blocking demotes him to these later rounds.
NFL Comparison: Derrick Mason, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Vincent Brown vs. TCU
Vincent Brown Draft Preview