But, injuries to Tony Romo and Dez Bryant exacerbated the lack of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball a season ago. Terrance Williams had rather high expectations going into last season, considering his stellar playoff performances in 2014. I thought he could be the Alvin Harper to Dez Bryant's Michael Irvin, but without Romo on the field Williams was quiet, to say the least.
Considering this lack of talented depth at the receiver position, the Cowboys were almost forced to add wide-outs through the draft or free agency. Well, after the draft concluded, the Cowboys signed undrafted free agent Notre Dame Fighting Irish Wide Receiver Chris Brown to fill this void.
The 6'2″ 180 pound wide-out drew 3rd to 4th round grades from a number of prominent scouts and draft writers, so the idea that the Cowboys could sign him as an undrafted free agent is exciting.
Brown has the height to play at the next level, but many have questions about his skinny frame. Only weighing 180 pounds, Brown may have problems dealing with physical corners due to his limited strength.
Despite this lack of strength and weight, Brown does show the ability and willingness to run north and south after catching the ball, something many undersized receivers are afraid to do. Smith was used a lot in the screen game, where this ability was clear.
Because of his size limitations, blocking will never be a strong suit for Brown. However, you can never say his effort when making blocks is the issue. He has no problem breaking down and trying to lay the wood on cornerbacks in the open-field.
There are some flaws with his technique here for sure, but like I said, Brown's effort is there and he finds a way to seal the edge and get the job done.
As a receiver, Brown has good, quick feet and acceleration. This helps him to run good routes and beat defenders. I also love how Brown shows no fear about going over the middle. He even goes up and grabs the ball at its highest point between two defenders. He is fearless, and this helps overcome his size deficiencies.
Brown was a track sprinter as well, and it is evident on tape. He flashes really good speed and is able to create separation and fly by corners with this speed. Here we see him catch a short drag route and use his speed to turn it into a touchdown.
Against Florida State here, we see Brown use his speed and acceleration to create separation between him and the defender. He gets a good release off the line of scrimmage, but doesn't really win with his first step. Instead, he allows his speed to take over as he crosses the entire field and makes the catch.
Brown seems to always be able to find the soft spot in the defenses' coverage. He didn't provide a ton of highlight reel type of plays, but he consistently found ways to get open and make catches. He was an extremely reliable receiver for the Fighting Irish.
Here we see that reliability in action. Brown finds a soft spot in the coverage and sits there waiting for the throw. He then makes the catch in front of the defender and moves the chains.
Most of Brown's weaknesses stem from his lack of weight and strength, which can hopefully both be improved with the Cowboys' strength program.
I did notice that Brown seemed to be a streaky receiver, however. Meaning that when he made a play or two, he could get hot and rattle off a few catches in a row. But, this also means that when he drops a ball or two, he tends to be quiet for the next few possessions.
While he is coming in as only an undrafted free agent, I actually expect Brown to beat out Devin Street during Preseason. While Street is currently about 15 pounds heavier than Brown, Chris should be able to make up for some of this difference now that he is with the team. Street and Brown have similar styles of play, but after consistently lackluster performances from Street over the last two seasons, I think Brown may get the edge.
Of course, after being in the system and in the league for two more seasons than Brown, Street has an inherent advantage. But, Street has failed to seize the opportunities given to him by the Cowboys in the past, and Chris Brown shows a ton of ability on tape.
I think the Cowboys added a mid-round type of receiver in Chris Brown, and I fully expect him to compete in camp, making it as difficult as possible for the coaching staff to let him go.