LB Baron Browning, Ohio St. (6’3”, 240)

Background:

Five-star recruit who appeared in twelve games as a true freshman, then started a few games the following year and posted 23-3.5-1.0. Started at outside linebacker as a junior, enjoying his most productive season – 43-11.0-5.0 – then played both inside and outside in his senior year and finished with 29-3.0-1.0 over seven games.

Positives:

Comes with about two years of starting experience for a major program. Well-built for the modern game, with good height/length and a strong build. Has played both inside and outside and could conceivably play any of the three linebacker positions in an even front, or potentially the “Jack” (weak inside linebacker) in an odd front. Athletic run-and-hit linebacker who’s at his best when he’s protected by big bodies up front and allowed to flow to the ball; has sideline-to-sideline range. Was trusted to line up on the outside next to a five-technique and set the edge. Shows discipline on the backside. Shows the ability to break down and make tackles in the open field. Good thudding hitter who can help set the tone defensively. Looks impressive when making spot drops into zone, getting into position quickly and showing smooth, controlled movements. Able to bail from blitz looks into zone, flipping his hips well. Light on his feet in zone, and plants and drives well to deliver hits on throws underneath. Was a productive pass-rusher in his junior year; has the type of explosiveness and closing speed to get to the passer in a scheme which gets him open lanes. Shows the ability to dip his shoulder and bend back to the passer.

Negatives:

Production dropped off as a senior. Can be a little bit slow to diagnose in the run game, and isn’t quite fast enough to recover when he’s frozen and loses outside positioning. Was successfully targeted on read-options during the games reviewed. Would like to see him play the outside run as a first option rather than trying to take away the inside. Probably needs to play on a defense which prevents him from having to take on too many blockers; angles can be affected by the need to work around blocks instead of stacking/shedding. Wasn’t asked to play a lot of man coverage in college, so his ability to line up against running backs and tight ends is unknown, although he has the skillset for it.

Summary:

A player well-suited to the modern game, combining sideline-to-sideline range in the run game with the ability to drop into zone or rush the quarterback on passing downs. Has the potential to develop into a starter if he improves his recognition skills and positioning in the run game, but should be able to contribute on passing downs either way.

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