The NFL Draft is loaded with big named players that fans can see every weekend on television playing in primetime. The top of this year’s draft is no different, as players like Teddy Bridgewater, Jake Matthews and Sammy Watkins all saw their fair share of the TV spotlight in 2013.
But for every big name from a big school that pans out, there are the big names who flame out. And every once in a while, there are lower level players who emerge on the scene and make a big impact despite smaller beginnings.
The Buccaneers got plenty of on-the-field contributions this past season from players from Western Kentucky, Western Washington, Northern Colorado and Portland State, so they’re no strangers to the ability small-school players can possess.
This summer in the NFL Draft, there will be a handful of contributors from lesser known colleges, but one that stood out during the NFL Scouting Combine and made a name for himself was John Brown of Pittsburg State in Kansas.
Thanks to Brock Sisney of the Morning Sun in Pittsburg for the additional information.
About John Brown:
Brown arrived at Pittsburg State in 2011, and the team improved from 6-6 to 13-1 in his first year on campus, and took home a title in his first year with the team. He previously played for Mars Hill in North Carolina before transferring away and winding up in Pittsburg.
The very first time Brown ever touched the football as a member of the Gorillas (great mascot, by the way), he took a punt to the house from 84 yards out. His team was ranked as a middling team in their conference that season, and his performance in his very first game helped lift Pitt State to a victory over ranked Missouri Western.
Of course, Pittsburg isn’t a big school, so his level of competition was fairly low. But against the best competition he’d face, Northwest Missouri State (who went 15-0 and won the National Championship in 2013), Brown always seemed to step up his game. By the time he was a senior at Pittsburg State, he was the focal point of every defense, and still managed to score 17 times during his final season at the school.
Off the field, Brown was nominated as a part of the “Good Works Team” and was praised by teammates and media alike for his personality off the field.
- Incredibly quick in addition to possessing top-end speed. Capable of changing directions well.
- Creative playmaker with the football. Has the vision to find space where there is no space originally.
- Reliable pass catcher who hauled in passes on the sidelines, over his shoulders, and on all sorts of other routes.
- Able to break tackles in addition to avoiding tacklers with moves and quickness.
- Versatile athlete who was used as a runner, receiver, and return man.
- Willing and capable blocker despite lacking in size.
- Impressed at Scouting Combine, showing good speed, change-of-direction, and technique as a catcher.
- Repeat team captain with Pittsburg State.
- Lacks ideal size in every way. He’s somewhat short, fairly light, and has smaller hands than teams usually want out of a wide receiver.
- Level of competition is an obvious concern. His ability to create and break tackles could be aided by poor opponents.
- Brown is a risk taker who is prone to be a bit too bold as a returner. Combined with his small hands, this could lead to issues with ball security.
Conclusion and Comparison:
Obviously, Brown has to prove that what he did in Division II will translate to the NFL, but he seems to be technically sound and he didn’t just rely on his speed to dominate at a lower level. If he’s able to make the same sort of plays as a professional, he’ll have a Tavon Austin-like impact on a team as a slot receiver who can break away on any pass, and a dangerous weapon in the return game. But as is the case with any lower level prospect, he has to translate what worked against Division II athletes into the NFL, which is no small task.
The potential means Brown is worth a 6th or 7th round selection, but likely no higher due to serious size and level of competition concerns. But for a team like the Buccaneers, Brown would be a very interesting lottery ticket at the end of the draft.
Click here to watch videos of Brown to see him for yourself.