Scouting Report: Amon-Ra St. Brown, a Potential Patriot Slot Star

With the retirement of Julian Edelman looming over the next couple seasons, Amon-Ra St. Brown could step in and make sure New England doesn't miss a beat.
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Measurables:

Height: 6-foot-1 (1.85m)

Weight: 194 lbs (88kg)

Age: 21

Strengths:

- Likely the best route-runner you'll see in this class, and could contend with some previous classes as well. 

- Does a phenomenal job of selling vertical routes on almost everything he runs in his route tree, constantly keeping the cornerback guessing and off-balance. 

- Light, sudden, explosive feet. Strong, quick, refined footwork that allows him to cut on a dime and explode and accelerate out of his breaks, creating giant pockets of separation in zone, and especially in man coverage. 

- Always seems to remember to come back towards the football and beat his defender to it. Along with that, has strong hands and extends his arms out. Great possession receiver in that respect. 

- Those strong hands also make for some unreal highlight catches. Some phenomenal one-handed snags and 50/50 contested grabs show up on his resume. 

- Has both a high football IQ and is extremely polished. In his route-running, he utilizes both traits to find soft spots in coverages to sit down and get open for easy completions. An excellent sense of timing, spacing, depth, and knowledge on how to attack defender's blind spots.

- A player who can out-leverage defenders with his feet, running up on their toes, attacking their weak-side hips. 

- Ability to trick defenders out of shoes with rocker steps, utilizing the synchronicity of his head, shoulders and feet. 

- An absolute competitor who can take tough hits over the middle, dominate and make plays near the boundary, and get great body positioning and high point the ball on those 50/50s. 

Weaknesses:

- Not a sound blocker by any stretch, which would be surprising for someone as competitive and tough as him.

- Leaves a lot of room to be desired after the catch, yet that's not to say that this trait is wretched by any means. 

- Lacks physicality (probably the trait to be most concerned about). In both the run game and against more physical corners in the pass game he sometimes struggles when getting handsy. Doesn't appear to have the power or the some of the technique to fight through much contact. Although there were of course some flashes on tape when he did. 

- Building off the lack of physicality, he could stand to add a little bit more to his frame. Some more work in the weight room and maybe a few more pounds could benefit his transition to the pro level.

- He had occasional concentration drops, although some of those balls were also dead ducks from his quarterback. 

Summary and Archetype:

USC's Amon-Ra St. Brown will likely end up being one, if not my top draft crush for the 2021 cycle. When it comes to route-running, football IQ, consistently creating separation, and making catches over the middle, it's tough to find another with a more convincing resume than St. Brown. 

While his game has some limitations, and it's yet to be seen what kind of success he will have against bigger, more handsy cornerbacks in the NFL. However, his ceiling out of the slot is extremely high. 

Fit with the Patriots:

St. Brown does a little of everything New England needs in a receiver. Outside of Edelman, they lack a receiver with strong route-running ability that can consistently find separation versus press man coverage (besides maybe an aged Edelman). They lack a guy who can immediately step in and play like a WR2. 

St. Brown would be able to do all that for the Patriots, and more. Pairing St. Brown with Edelman, Jakobi Meyers, and a downfield deep threat would provide New England with a nice base to their receiving core, allowing them to start to tool together a group that is currently a mess. 

Unlike Edelman and Meyers, St. Brown would also be able to hit deep on occasion. If St. Brown and another deep threat could threaten that part of the field, the Patriots' offense would be able to attack multiple layers of the field on any given play. Thus giving Josh McDaniels more play design and play call flexibility, making things easier on whoever the quarterback might be in 2021. 

Once Edelman decides to hang up his cleats, St. Brown has the talent to become the permanent slot receiver for New England and prosper in the role. The drafting of St. Brown could pay short-term dividends, and then turn into a long-term hold of a player who could eventually become a cornerstone of their offense and everything they try to accomplish on a given Sunday. With St. Brown serving as a sponge behind Edelman and learning new information, the sky would be the limit once the time came to officially make the switch.