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Film Room: Broncos LB Baron Browning is a Star in the Making

It was a late start for the Broncos' third-round pick, but Baron Browning has been a rapid riser on defense since he has recovered from injuries.

Baron Browning was an athletic and versatile linebacker that played multiple roles for the Ohio State Buckeyes. That hurt his transition to the NFL, and his leg injury in the Denver Broncos' rookie mini-camp delayed his progress even more. 

Since recovering from the leg injury, and a concussion, Browning has been a rapid riser for the Broncos' defense. When he's on the field, there's a noticeable difference. 

Kenny Young is a good complement to what Browning does, but the rookie linebacker has come off the field, the defense doesn't click as well. Browning is proving to be a star in the making, and it showed multiple times against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 12. 

If Browning can continue to develop at this rate, he will be getting talked about as a star by the middle of next season. Let's examine the film. 

Play 1: 9:52 | First Quarter

Situation: 3rd-&-2

Browning shows his patience on this run as Young crashes inside to force the ball-carrier outside. When Austin Ekeler cuts it outside, Browning and S Caden Sterns were there waiting for them and make the tackle. 

Browning is following the flow of the play, but he doesn't crash inside. Instead, he stays back and in a position to read and react to the action. Staying patient and disciplined is vital for linebackers when it comes to their run defense. 

Play 2: 9:52 | First Quarter

Situation: 3rd-&-3

Browning is a freak athlete, and his ability to get up and disrupt this pass highlights that athleticism. His coverage was solid vs. L.A. as he was aware of the receiver entering his zone and was reading the quarterback. Justin Herbert did a good job pulling Browning closer to the line to try and dump the pass over him, but Browning can get up. 

This is such a veteran-type play from the rookie linebacker, and it was almost textbook from start to finish. Being more consistent with this level of play can see Browning become a great coverage linebacker. His athleticism helps cover up for mistakes, but it allows him to make a great play when he doesn't make a mistake. 

Play 3: 9:52 | Second Quarter

Situation: 3rd-&-5

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While this isn't a great result from Browning, he shows off plenty of potential. He scans the play and sets out to take the running back in coverage. There is space open in the middle that the running back hits for the quick catch and first-down. 

Ekeler has plenty of speed and quickness, and Browning can stick right there with him. Despite giving up the first-down, he doesn't give him enough space to make much of a play after the catch. This was just a great play by the offense to take advantage of the defense's clear middle-of-the-field leader. 

Play 4: 9:52 | Third Quarter

Situation: 2nd-&-6

Browning is quick to get into position to cover the running back out of the backfield. He sticks with him, keeping a reasonable distance not to get caught up. When the quarterback makes the throw, Browning breaks on the ball to make the tackle after only a small gain. 

There were a few problematic coverage plays from Browning against the Chargers, but he was fairly consistent. He will be a force in coverage if he can read the passing concept and get into a position as he did here consistently. 

Play 5: 9:52 | Third Quarter

Situation: 3rd-&-4

Browning can bring it as a pass rusher, and his athleticism makes it hard for offensive linemen to block him. The timing to come as a blitzer here is perfect, and he gets around the left guard to force the quarterback to hurry a pass that falls incomplete. 

Browning is so quick and athletic, and he shows it in every phase of defense. The design on his blitz was excellent with how Jonathon Cooper and McTelvin Agim attacked the offensive line. 


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