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Scouting Jets tight end Daniel Brown

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Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With the new league year underway, we’re going to break down each of the Jets’ new additions in detail. We continue today with former Chicago Bears tight end Daniel Brown.

The 26-year old Brown is listed at 6’5” and 243 pounds and was undrafted out of James Madison in 2015. Brown is a converted wide receiver who has started five games in his career and caught 35 passes for over 300 yards and a touchdown. He played in 14 games for the Bears last year, but didn’t catch a pass. Brown has also played for the Ravens.

Background

Brown, who was also a basketball player, was recruited to James Madison where he showed some big play abilities by making five catches for 157 yards and a touchdown in his redshirt freshman year.

In the following season, he caught two passes for 22 yards and a touchdown before suffering a season-ending injury early on in the third game of the year.

Coming off his injury, Brown broke out in his junior and senior year with 42 catches in each season for a total of 1,271 yards and 15 touchdowns.

As an undrafted free agent, Brown impressed in his rookie preseason, catching two touchdown passes. This was enough to earn him a spot on the practice squad and he was activated to the main roster in November and made six catches for 64 yards.

Having converted from wide receiver to tight end, Brown was released in final cuts and again started off on the practice squad in 2016. This time he was activated for three games in October, but when the Ravens waived him, he got claimed by the Bears. In the last eight games of the year, he made three starts and caught 16 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown.

Brown made two more starts as he ended the year with 13 catches for 129 yards. However, in 2018, he barely saw any time on offense, as he was limited to a special teams role, despite having impressed in preseason with nine catches for 153 yards. He still played in 14 games though.

The Jets signed Brown to a one-year deal last month.

Now let’s take a look at what Brown brings to the table, divided into categories.

Measurables/Athleticism

Brown, who was a wide receiver at the time, put together an impressive performance at his pro day, running a 4.52 40-yard dash and under 4.2 in the short shuttle and 6.9 in the three cone drill. His vertical and broad jump were solid, but he only managed a disappointing 11 bench press reps.

Brown has excellent size for a wide receiver with good length and big hands but was big enough to make the conversion to tight end.

Usage

Brown played as a wide receiver in Baltimore in his rookie year, but the Ravens made the decision to convert him to tight end in 2016 and he played there in preseason.

Even since his move to tight end, Brown still gets plenty of reps in the slot and has made 13 of his 35 career catches when lined up there.

Brown has said that being a former basketball player has helped him in terms of boxing out his man at the point of the catch or high-pointing the ball.

Downfield threat

Brown showed some big play capabilities in college but wasn’t really capable of burning his man deep at the NFL level. However, he’s been effective at going down the seam in his limited action so far.

Routes

With his pedigree as a wide receiver, Brown perhaps should have better route running skills than some tight ends but he was viewed limited in that area when he entered the league and has been working to improve. He can be effective on curls and in the flats.

Brown has been called for two offensive pass interference penalties in his career.

Hands

Brown’s hands seem to be pretty reliable. He’s only had a few drops and most of these seem to have been tough plays where he had to stretch or dive for the ball.

His catch rate in preseason games is over 80 percent and, since the move to tight end, his catch rate is just below 75 percent in regular season action.

He looks like a natural hands catcher and shows an ability to adjust to poorly thrown balls.

Yards after the catch

Brown doesn’t really break tackles but he runs well in the open field and can be a good option to dump the ball off to. On one play, he took the ball down near the goal line on a shovel pass.

On this play, Brown impressively almost manages to outrun some defensive backs to the end zone.

Red zone

Brown shows on this play that he could be a good option in the red zone, especially if you can work a mismatch.

17 touchdowns in his college career is further evidence of his potential to be a red zone threat.

Run Blocking

As a converted wide receiver, Brown isn’t the kind of player who will contribute much as a blocker if employed in an inline role. However, he has been working to make improvements in that area.

On this play, Brown basically gets stood up at the line of scrimmage and doesn’t manage to maintain his leverage advantage. However, he sustains the block just long enough for the running back to get a big run around the outside.

He has one holding penalty in his career, but that was on special teams.

Pass Blocking

Brown’s inexperience shows in pass blocking situations as he’s given up a few sacks and some other pressures.

Special Teams

Brown has made some good contributions on special teams in his career so far, principally as a blocker on the return units. He’s also made a few special teams tackles in kick coverage and came up with this blocked punt in preseason.

His biggest contribution of last year was this late-game onside kick recovery, although the Bears still lost in overtime.

In college, Brown fielded three kickoffs and returned them for a total of 27 yards.

Instincts/intelligence

As a receiver, Brown showed some abilities to sit down in open areas underneath. He also didn’t make many mental errors, with just one false start in his career.

Brown was a dean’s list student in college.

Attitude

Brown’s former coach, Marc Trestman, praised his work ethic, as Brown worked to develop his skills in route-running and blocking. Veteran Steve Smith apparently helped him with advice on how to use his hands to get off press coverage.

Brown has said that he plays with a chip on his shoulder because he’s competitive, but he has good character and no off-field concerns.

Injuries

Brown was carted off the field with an ACL tear early on in the 2012 season, but has mostly remained injury free since then. He missed some time with a shoulder issue last season, though and was hurt in a collision in practice in 2016.

Scheme Fit

Along with Josh Bellamy, Tom Compton and Jordan Morgan, Brown is another player who was on Dowell Loggains’ offense in Chicago, so has likely been identified as someone who can contribute in their system. Brown had 29 of his 35 catches in Loggains’ system.

Conclusions

Since signing Brown, the Jets have also brought back Eric Tomlinson and Neal Sterling, which probably positions Brown as an outside bet to make the roster.

Brown is not practice squad eligible, so to stick around he will have to outperform Sterling or Jordan Leggett - or perhaps even both. However, while usually you’d give the edge to the incumbent, Brown actually has the closer ties to the current staff, so perhaps he has the inside track if he can show more promise and make the most of whatever opportunities he gets.