Studying film ahead of the NFL Draft can be daunting. Sometimes you’re watching 10-games and hundreds of plays to get a sense of a particular player. When you dive this deep, you tend to notice other athletes overshadowing your guy. While analyzing top prospects, this becomes less common. These are the best of the best. So, when a guy captures your attention away from, say–Kyler Murray, it’s more than intriguing.
Marquise Brown‘s nickname is “Hollywood”. The 2019 NFL Draft prospect dazzles in the spotlight. He makes the clutch plays and big catches in primetime. For the past two seasons at Oklahoma, all he did was produce. In his sophomore and junior seasons, Brown would amass 132 receptions for 2,413 yards and 17 touchdowns. In 2018, he’d be named a First-team All-American and First-team All-Big 12 as a wide receiver. The nickname isn’t rooted in his highlight reel style of play, however.
Brown grew up in Hollywood, Florida where he attended Chaminade-Madonna High School. After graduation, he’d receive zero division one scholarships. In 2016, Brown would attend College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, California. Because this was a junior college, Brown would have to pay his tuition. During his freshman year, Brown would work at Six Flags to pay the bills. He’d also gain the attention of Division one coaches from his time on the field.
In 2017, Brown transferred to Oklahoma where he’d be privileged to play wide receiver for quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray in back-to-back seasons. Both quarterbacks would win the Heisman during Brown’s sophomore and junior seasons. So, does the receiver make the quarterback or is it the other way around? Regardless of your answer, Brown will become a favorite target for any current or future NFL quarterback. And it will happen sooner rather than later.
An elite speed that immediately translates to the next level
Every professional team has its’ receiver prototypes. Some systems need length while others prefer possession guys. Most teams like to have a receiver for each and every demand. With that said, every single franchise either has or is desperately searching for a guy that can spread the field out. Brown is a burner. He can take the top off of an NFL defense tomorrow.
In today’s NFL, throwing passes beyond 20 yards is becoming less prominent. While a speedy receiver is capable of capitalizing on deep bombs, it’s more about keeping defenses honest. Just having the threat can open things up for an offense. Luckily, speed is useful in every circumstance.
Take screen passes for instance. Screens have become more and more prevalent at the next level. They’re designed to take advantage of an aggressive defense. They counter blitzes and put defensive backs in one-on-one situations to fight off blocks and make tackles.
With speed, the screen’s purpose has evolved into an extended handoff. It’s become more about getting the ball into a playmaker’s hands quickly rather than a means to slow the pass rush. Whichever team drafts Brown would be smart to incorporate these sort of plays.
A threat to score on every touch
Straight line speed will get you open deep, but it not indicative of a consistent playmaker. Brown has many more tools in his belt. Whether in the slot or on the outside, Brown is highly explosive at all levels of the field. Again, the NFL has evolved into a quick passing game. Watch how Brown can catch passes at or near the line of scrimmage and convert them into chunk plays consistently.
Routine hooks, curls, and comebacks can become troublesome for a defense if Brown is not corraled quick enough. When given a cushion, Brown makes defenders pay with great burst out of his breaks. Once he’s secured the catch, Brown can turn-and-run with the best of them. Even the best cornerbacks will struggle coming to balance against Brown’s swift change in direction.
Brown oozes agility. Whether it’s lateral, vertical or in-and-out of his breaks, he sustains speed. Not to mention he’s a route technician. Combine that with a full capacity of the route tree and Brown is as dangerous an offensive weapon as anyone currently in the NFL.
Here’s a clip from his days with Baker Mayfield. Brown is running one of the more difficult intermediate patterns as a first-year Division one player. If this is indicative of an inexperienced Marquise Brown, then give the kid a couple more seasons.
Fast forward to 2018 and Brown’s game became multifaceted. Much of the patterns he runs are of the unorthodox nature. He’s proficient in double moves, inside cuts, and outside breaks. He’s such a fluid and sudden route runner. Combined with the threat of his speed, it’s nearly impossible to shut him down. Even pressing him proves inadequate as his first step off of the line will leave many press corners flat-footed.
Hollywood Brown’s weaknesses are obvious. Not only is he small for his position, but he’s also small for a placekicker. At 5-feet 9 and 166 lbs, Brown may very well be the smallest player in this years draft class. Lacking size will play a significant role on contested catches. But, let’s be honest. No team should be throwing jump balls to this guy. I’m perfectly okay with Brown’s lack of securing 50/50 balls. What is concerning is durability.
Not only will the next level pose larger, faster and stronger opponents, but Brown is recovering from a recent injury as it is. Brown would injure his foot in the Big 12 championship game. In January, he’d have LisFranc surgery to repair the damage. This was a fracture to the mid part of his foot. After surgery, Brown was expected to be laid up for 6-8 weeks before another 6-weeks in a boot. He’s expected to return for summer camp, but this set him back regarding the combine, Oklahoma’s pro-day and the NFL draft.
Once a top-15 pick, Brown is being selected in the 2nd and even the 3rd round in many online mock drafts. The combination of size, recent injury status, and minimal testing prior to the draft will put off some front offices. Even his connection to troubled Oakland Raider receiver Antonio Brown may be in the back of one’s mind.
In the end
There are some obvious concerns related to Brown’s ability to get healthy and stay there. That is a fair red flag when scouting Brown. But do not count his size against his production on the field. With players like Kansas City Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill (5-feet 10, 185 lbs) or his cousin Antonio Brown (5-feet 10, 181 lbs) dominating the league, his size shouldn’t be a concern regarding results.
In less than 3 weeks, Brown will be drafted. A Six Flags employee trying to pay for community college exploded into an ESPN top-10 mainstay. Some team, offense, and their quarterback will be lucky to have him.
I never planned on submerging myself into Marquise “Hollywood” Brown’s tape. My intentions were to find what made the top quarterback, the top quarterback. In doing so, I stumbled upon the top receiver. The first guy I’d draft at the wideout position.