Rookie Sensation: Marquise Brown
Baltimore has formulated an explosive group of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball under the direction of their General Manager, Eric DeCosta. Lamar Jackson has been at the forefront of this movement, and his success on the field has proven to be instrumental to the team stringing wins together. The Ravens making the move in the 2019 draft to acquire Marquise “Hollywood” Brown was a decision that was carried out to establish an explosive perimeter threat for Lamar Jackson. The mixture of their speed and athleticism creates a formidable duo, as Jackson’s improved passing ability has lead to a lethal connection between the two promising young playmakers.
Brown, the cousin of the former all-pro Antonio Brown, was on the NFL’s radar due to his diverse skill set and his dynamic playmaking skills. During his sophomore and junior seasons at Oklahoma, Brown amassed 1,000 yards each of those two seasons, and combined for 17 receiving touchdowns. His prolific career at Oklahoma is highlighted by his big play creations off of deep routes and RAC opportunities. Brown showed a favorable combination of tactically utilized releases, well-processed routes, elite quickness, and quality body control.
The Oklahoma product obviously showed an elite product on his college film, so I was immensely impressed in my viewing for my final evaluation of his game. I had him graded as an early-mid first round talent until I took his slight frame into consideration. The over analyzation of his frame would ultimately cause me to make the mistake of penalizing him and decreasing his draft grade.
In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens used the 25th pick to Select Brown. The returns have been extremely impressive in his debut games this season, and Brown has put himself squarely into Offensive Rookie of the Year contention. Marquise Brown has ushered in an added element of excitement to the Ravens offense and has proven all of his doubters wrong thus far.
Why Marquise Brown has been successful:
In his first couple showcases as a Raven, Marquise Brown has displayed his trademark speed and explosiveness over all else. Baltimores coaching staff has installed multiple deep routes that play to Brown’s strengths, and they are allowing him to use his blazing top end speed to challenge the back half of opposing defenses.
Brown is a difficult cover because he has the vertical explosiveness to force Cornerbacks to retreat from their pedal. He also creates an abundance of issues for the DB who has him as a coverage assignment due to how adept he is at stacking and separating. Marquise may not be as gifted of a route technician as his cousin, but the rookie shows impressive processing and adjustments to the defense from his release, to his stem, and out of the breaking point of his route. He is tasked with running routes to all three levels of the defense, and shows he can set up corners in order to create an easy path of least resistance.
The Ravens WR comes flying out of the gates when releasing off of the line and he carries that acceleration through his stem. Once he reaches the breaking point on his route, Brown displays fluidity in his hips, sudden feet, and impressive pacing. His burst and ability to change speeds make it difficult for defenders to match him in coverage. He also shows a certain understanding of how to leverage himself in his route and how to attack how the defender is stationed in their matchup. Once he keys a large hole in the coverage layout or locates a seam, he will attack it with fervor and in that situation defenses will have to hope that the QB misses his read because Brown has “take it to the house” ability from anywhere on the field.
Another spot where Marquise Brown shines is after the catch. He consistently destroys defensive pursuit angles with his track speed and agility. Watching his tape is one fun study because of how much ground he covers in a short amount of time. On top of the fact that he is in the upper echelon of athletes in the league, he is shifty enough to make more than one defender miss on a single play.
In this play versus the Dolphins, we see Marquise Brown outside release from a slot alignment. He keys the DB going into half-turn, so he sets up the route with his shoulders square during the stem so that he does not clue the DB into the inside break. Next, we see Brown attack the opened hips of the defender and he capitalizes off of the overplay of the route from the defender. Marquise was crisp and sudden at the breaking point of the slant, and took it to the house because of his amazing run after the catch skillset. The cleared MOF also provided him with a clean run path because of the movement created in the defense due to them biting on the action at the mesh point.
Why Marquise Brown will continue to be successful:
In today’s NFL we are witnessing a large group of teams bringing in elite playmakers who add an innate amount of speed to the offensive side of the ball. With Marquise Brown meshing well with the rest of the offensive structure, and more importantly Lamar Jackson, he will be in a position to consistently put up sizable numbers while not getting overworked due to the vastness of pieces on the offense. A popular comparison for Brown Pre-Draft was DeSean Jackson, and I believed then and I believe now that the Ravens rookie will live up to that lofty pro comp.
Marquise Brown is part of a new wave of young NFL Wide Receivers. He has a broad tool box that will create opportunities for himself, and he can attack the defense as a route runner and as a playmaker after the catch. This player fits the current mold of NFL WR’s and has the aptitude to be an elite talent in the league.