After using their fourth round pick on WR Ryan Switzer, the Cowboys added yet another player at a position many felt they were set at with Ohio State's Noah Brown at 239th overall. Brown may have a hard time making an immediate impact with the Cowboys, but his Buckeyes teammate Ezekiel Elliott was reportedly a big part of getting him to Dallas – where Brown's college tape certainly shows a player that will flash through the preseason and be hard to deny opportunities for.
When I wrote the best single trait for each of the Cowboys' nine draft picks, Noah Brown's blocking stood out in a huge way. This is something that the team – thanks to their commitment to Elliott in the backfield – values out of their wide receivers, and it will help Brown compete.
WR Noah Brown: Strengths
You've likely seen this ridiculous catch by Brown against Oklahoma numerous times already. One of his four touchdowns on this evening, Brown shows off his strong hands and leaping ability to high point the football.
Brown may not consistently jump out of the stadium, but he is elite at tracking the football and deceptively setting up defenders when needed to beat them to the spot. Winning with physicality more times than not at the catch point, Noah Brown is an ideal red zone target for any NFL team.
This shorter clip displays that slight deception and smoothness as an athlete that Brown brings to the Cowboys now, as he plays through contact and gets himself in position to secure this touchdown pass.
As a route runner, Brown could be more consistent in a few areas, but he flashes pretty frequently with the length and burst to get on cornerbacks in a hurry and use his length to separate vertically.
Noah Brown will also stay low on inside breaking routes – where he was schemed a lot of touches at Ohio State – wasting no movement as he gets to the spot and snags every ball thrown his way with his hands only.
Of course, Brown's strengths have to again include his blocking, where he seeks out contact on every snap to deliver punishment with textbook technique. The Buckeyes' running game was still prolific in 2016 without Zeke, instead being led by now Panthers RB/WR Curtis Samuel, thanks in large part to designed plays like this where Brown absolutely wipes out the extra box defender.
Brown can drive his legs to sustain blocks and is also patient enough to shield defenders with his length and strong base before steering them out of plays when needed.
WR Noah Brown: Weaknesses
Noah Brown's only year starting in Columbus was 2016, which may have had an impact on his progression into the offense.
Traits are much more important than production when it comes to projecting a college player to the NFL, but Brown failed to put up the big numbers that other receivers with similar – but more consistent – traits did in this class, pushing him down to the seventh round.
The lack of a second gear as a route runner really hurts Brown, as he rarely shows the athleticism to stop and start quickly. Getting downfield takes much more of a slower buildup with Brown, something that will only be harder in the NFL should he struggle to win at the line of scrimmage due to these same athleticism questions.
Against zone coverage, Brown will look lost at times trying to find a spot to come free. With his skill for coming back to the football effortlessly, it would be great to see Noah Brown develop more of an awareness on the field at WR, but his Ohio State tape leaves this as a concern for the Cowboys to deal with.
WR Noah Brown: Summary
The fact that the Cowboys don't have a pressing need to force Noah Brown into a starting role makes his fit with the team ideal. Brown will provide solid depth early in his pro career as a WR with the upside to win on jump balls consistently and block better than most NFL receivers already.
Brown might not be an “X” wide receiver in the NFL thanks to his speed, and a lot of teams are now valuing quicker “Y” targets as well, but snaps should be available for him if he shows development as a route runner with a better overall understanding of the defenses in front of him.
These improvements would allow Brown to become a significantly more prolific player at this level, already entering as a seventh round pick with great size, length, and a massive catch radius.
The Cowboys' battles at CB this summer in training camp project to be an all-out war, and after a while some of these defenders are going to be sick of going up against the physical Noah Brown – who never takes a play off.