Matt Waldman’s RSP examines a few plays from St. Brown’s game that reveal tracking and catching issues that may initially trouble him in the NFL.
Equanimeous St. Brown earned a Depth of Talent grade of 79 in the 2018 Rookie Scouting Portfolio. That places him on the cusp of an immediate NFL contributor.
It means if St. Brown doesn’t improve at all between now and September (unlikely), he’s skilled enough to produce as a perimeter option in specific sub packages as a rookie. If a team needs him to start, he’ll have limitations that top defenders will expose, but he won’t be useless, either.
One of these limitations is tracking the ball over his head on vertical routes against tight coverage. Although the sample size isn’t huge, there are two years of plays on St. Brown’s tape where his tracking leads to problems at the catch point:
- Tipping off the arrival of the ball to the defender.
- Opening the body to the reach of the defender.
- Creating a passive hands position rather than an active one.
- Mistracking the target and losing the position of the ball.
There were enough of these targets where St. Brown turns a lead against a defender into a contested situation and the root issue has as much to do with his plan as the quarterback’s placement. Based on the past 13 years of studying receivers for the Rookie Scouting Portfolio, future NFL primary receivers rarely had this issue with tracking the ball on these routes.
If St. Brown doesn’t flash primary potential early or fails to reach this level of play during his career, I believe this issue will be one of the contributing factors.
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