Position: Tight End
School: The Texas State University
Hometown: Houston, TX
Weight: 250 lbs.
40 Yard Dash: 4.75 seconds
Bench Press: 17 reps
Broad Jump: 117”
Vertical Jump: 33”
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.51 seconds
60 Yard Shuttle: 12.25 seconds
3 Cone Drill: 7.27 seconds
The process behind the NFL draft has changed drastically. In the early days of drafting, Pete Rozelle would write down names on a whiteboard as NFL owners hoped for the best with their picks that were based on little more than newspaper articles and word of mouth. Today the draft is a high-profile and televised spectacle where combine stats, psychological profiles, and Wonderlic tests grab headlines.
While the process has evolved, NFL draft picks can still ultimately be a gamble. Injuries and behavioral issues can derail a promising career (eg. Vince Young, Rashaan Salaam) and no matter how much research a team does for a draft pick, that first rounder could produce a hall of fame career or do nothing of note.
I’m not a draft expert like Mel Kiper Jr. but if I were in the war room I’d take a gamble on Keenan Brown, who may be a surprise sleeper pick in this year’s upcoming draft.
As seen above, Keenan Brown’s combine numbers were not bad. At the end of the combine his measurables were middle of the road among the 21 tight end prospects vying for a roster spot. But that’s not why he’s a sleeper pick. If you saw the man play, and chances are unless you are a Texas State fan or Mel Kiper Jr. you didn’t, it isn’t hard to see why I say he’s a mid-to-late round pick with high potential.
Brown is quick for his size. His agility is grade A among his tight end draft peers. The former wide receiver runs his routes like a receiver, which in today’s pro game is now a prerequisite among the new breed of tight ends who play downfield, unlike the tight ends of yesterday who were primarily blockers and just an auxiliary passing option.
One of the jabronis at NFL.com claimed one of Brown’s weaknesses was the fact that 56% of his season stats in 2018 came from three games.
Well again if you watched any Bobcat games last season you know there are two reasons Brown’s stats are lopsided:
- Inept play calling.
- Young quarterbacks were shuffled in and out of the lineup (due to either injuries or inconsistency). Texas State’s quarterbacks never got a chance to gel with receivers because they were under constant duress due to an overwhelmed offensive line.
Whenever the first-team all-Sun Belt tight end would get the ball, he would cause havoc and would pose a problem for defenses as a receiver who requires more than one man or an arm tackle to take him down.
His route running is efficient, and his soft hands and big body provide a great slot option. If he can improve his catching ability in traffic there might not be a linebacker in the NFL that can defend against Keenan.
Also an upside is his quick hands and feet. His quick foot movement was crucial in his route running and blocking.
Blocking wise Brown was fine for the collegiate level but I will agree with the NFL analysts that his blocking technique needs to be tweaked, but the pro coaches get paid the big bucks to help mold young players. If he can absorb what his future coaches can teach him at the next level, Brown would definitely be a mid round steal. It’s not like Brown doesn’t have the appetite to be a great blocker — if you want to see a monstrous block go to 1:03 of Brown’s highlights against New Mexico State to see him lay out a poor defender.
What Does Keenan Brown’s Future Hold?
After declaring for this year’s draft Brown was invited to the 2019 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl where he played on a few series, dropping a pass over the middle in traffic but then making a spectacular catch later in the game.
Keenan got a chance to attend a local prospect day hosted by the Houston Texans on April 2nd, giving him an opportunity to showcase his skills in drills.
I see Brown going to a team in immediate need for a tight end option. New England, who is known for taking chances on overlooked players, could choose Brown due to the retirement of Rob Gronkowski. A fast-paced offense like Atlanta, who is also in need of a tight end, is also a viable option. I can also see the Tennessee Titans taking a chance on Brown as an understudy to Delanie Walker, who missed almost all of 2018 due to injury. Brown could learn under the perennial pro bowler as a future target for Marcus Mariota.
I’m not saying he’s the next Tony Gonzalez but this young man has a lot of upside and could make a lot of teams happy. Expect Keenan Brown to be taken between rounds three and five.