It’s easy to get caught up watching the physical freaks when scouting skill position players.
It’s tough to not look at the giants who still manage to move in ways even normal sized humans should be able to, or marvel at the speedsters who look like they’re playing the game in fast-forward. One of the attractions of the on-field workouts at the NFL Scouting Combine is seeing ridiculously athletic young men doing ridiculously athletic things.
But the danger in that is ignoring the players with more pedestrian athletic traits but the skills to succeed at the NFL level.
USC receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown is exactly that type of player. At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds he isn’t the player you want off the bus first, and with an estimated 40 time of about 4.5 seconds, he isn’t blazing fast. But what he does do is win as a route runner, make plays down the field, and create yardage with the ball in his hands, and that’s a skillset that can win at the NFL level.
Prospect: Amon-Ra St. Brown
Games Played: 30
Yards (YPC): 2,270 (12.8 per catch)
Total Touchdowns: 16
Games Played: 6
Yards (YPC): 478 (11.7 per catch)
Total Touchdowns: 7
Best: Route running, ball skills, quickness, agility, burst
Worst: Play strength, physicality, long speed
Projection: Starting slot or flanker in a West Coast or spread offense.
Amon-Ra St. Brown is a good-sized and technically polished receiving prospect from the University of Southern California.
St. Brown played out of multiple positions in USC’s offense, playing snaps at the Slot, X, and Flanker positions. He lined up almost exclusively as a slot receiver prior to the 2020 season, but played more outside (X and flanker) receiver after Michael Pittman Jr. left following the 2019 season.
St. Brown shows a good variety of releases, primarily relying on foot quickness and agility to get off the line against man coverage and to create separation early in his route. He is a smart, savvy, and polished route runner with a diverse route tree. He is used at all levels of the offense, from screen passes and mesh concepts, to curls and comeback routes, to post and go routes. St. Brown has a variety of strategies to create separation with his route running, varying his tempo to disrupt defenders’ timing, using his hands to clear tight man coverage, using sharp, precise breaks to maximize separation at the top of his routes. He has the ability to sink his hips, lower his center of gravity, and change direction quickly, as well as show a good burst out of those breaks.
St. Brown has good ball skills at all levels of the field. He does an excellent job of locating, tracking, and adjusting to the ball in the air. St. Brown is a natural “hands” catcher who routinely extends to pluck the ball out of the air and rarely — if ever — allows it into his chest plate. St. Brown also shows solid lower-body explosiveness to high-point the ball when necessary, as well as great concentration at the catch point.
While St. Brown has good quickness and burst out of his breaks, he has only average long speed. He is able to create separation early in routes but is only fast enough to sustain it against average defenders. Likewise, his play strength can be an issue at times as well. He has enough strength to be an obstacle as a blocker, but struggles to sustain blocks, and can be bullied by bigger defensive backs. As a general rule, St. Brown shouldn’t be relied upon for his blocking.
Overall Grade: 7.5 - St. Brown has a high floor and should be an immediate contributor in a West Coast or spread offense. He lacks elite traits but has the potential to carve out a significant or even starting role early in his career.
Amon-Ra St. Brown projects as a significant contributor or starter in an 11-personnel based offense which uses West Coast or spread concepts.
St. Brown is a polished route runner who has the ability to create separation on his own or as a part of a passing concept. He also has excellent ball skills to make catches at all levels of the field, from short passes in traffic to vertical routes deep down the field. St. Brown also has the ability to line up in multiple positions in the offensive formation, and could be used as a slot or outside receiver depending on the defensive match-ups available. That same versatility could also allow teams to play him wherever there is an opening on their roster.
That being said, St. Brown isn’t the most physically imposing receiver out there. He has adequate size to play a number of roles, but his play strength is somewhat lacking. He can also have issues with athletic cornerbacks, and his average long speed might make him less of a deep threat at the NFL level.
St. Brown doesn’t have exciting physical traits, but he has the technical polish — and enough athleticism — to be a productive receiver early in his career.