LB BARON BROWNING
Weight: 245 lbs.
School: Ohio State
A consensus five-star recruit out of Kennedale, Texas, where he attended and thrived at Kennedale High School. He was heavily pursued by a lot of major college football programs; he was the number one outside linebacker recruit, according to 247 Sports, in the 2017 cycle while being the 11th ranked overall recruit.
Through four seasons with the Buckeyes, Browning had 109 tackles, 19 for a loss, seven sacks, two forced fumbles, and 35 total pressures. Ohio State valued his versatility; he would align all over the box while also playing some apex and kicking out to the boundary on occasion.
Browning is a size/speed player who tested exceptionally well. His 33.5” arms do help when he’s used on the EDGE as a pass rusher, which was common in his film. Browning is a versatile, raw linebacker who has a lot of potential.
Excellent size, weight, and athletic ability for the position. Combines explosiveness, change of direction ability while moving, and lateral movement skills to execute a diverse amount of assignments while having good hips to drop into coverage and maneuver. He can allow his center of gravity to rise when coming downhill while in coverage, but not as much when he’s rushing the passer.
Size, speed, length, and strength are all things that Browning possesses to make up a quality NFL starter. Despite his five-star ranking, he was a slow starter at Ohio State--he looked like he found a stride in his senior year.
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However, he’s rather raw to playing the linebacker position and may be viewed as a tweener; he wasn’t great with using his hands to stack and shed. He is much more of a reactionary player than one that foresees play designs. He has quality reps scraping over the top and filling his role, but his vision in this area is inconsistent. Anticipation in coverage is marginal, and I wish he put himself into better positions.
Coverage capabilities are high, but the lack of processing slows his positioning, and he was a bit indecisive during coverage in space against less athletic tight ends. He has excellent competitive toughness and delivers big hits as a tackler in space. He uses quick twitch to explode downhill and uses his good tackling ability to wrap and drive offensive players to the ground.
He aligns on the EDGE and has a really quick first step that he uses to set up an equally quick second and third step up the pass-rushing arc. Swivels hips and reduces the surface area of his chest to avoid tackle’s punches. He keeps his hands active and has shown the ability to bend through contact, and flashes some counters.
Overall, Browning fits the mold of versatile LB/EDGE who can effectively blitz in various situations--think a suped-up Cam Brown, but with more athletic ability.
From a processing standpoint, it’s not quite refined within the box, but I believe he can be a situational player who can rush the passer or drop into coverage on passing downs. Players don’t typically have his combination of athletic traits and measurables, so a team will draft him early. I just wish he was a bit more consistent with the nuances of playing linebacker.