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2021 NFL Draft Prospect WR Amon-Ra St. Brown

A tough, quick receiver

NCAA Football: Oregon at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Every player, every person on the earth has a persona that in their early life is molded in most part by their family. The stronger the family bond the stronger those life lessons attained during those formative years take root. When a child or group of children in that family grow up to adolescence with a firm belief in those family ideas, they become philosophies to live by.

Amon-Ra St Brown grew up in a family with very strong parental guidance. They taught their children to be strong yet intellectual. Amon’s father wanted to give the children names that set a high bar for life.

Amon’s father is John Brown was a two time Mr. Universe and a three time Mr. World in the 1980’s. He was an Adonis, a hulking powerful man but also a deep, intellectual type of person. Long before he had children he thought his name was too common, too trite. He thought about his children long before he had any. He wanted them to be special, to know they were unique so he would give them exceptional names.

Mr. Brown married and had three boys. He named the first son Equanimeous St. Brown who now plays for the Green Bay Packers. Equanimity means composure. John had a friend who wrote a book with a character named Equanimeous. Right then he knew (long before he had children) he would name his first son that. The St. Brown he threw in when he made out his birth certificate. Brown seemed too common a name for a special child. He also thought if he were an athlete it would look cool on the back of a jersey.

John Brown named his next two sons after Egyptian Gods. His second son Osiris is currently a senior at Stanford University, a wide receiver who played only a single game due to injuries and a COVID scare. His youngest boy is named Amon-Ra. Amon-Ra entered the NFL draft as a junior wide receiver from USC.

Amon-Ra is an athletic intellectual like his parents. When he finished high school he was a top recruit. He had an announcement party with reporters present. After he disclosed he would attend USC the reporter asked him if he would like to say anything further. Without any hesitation he wanted to thank his father for all love and devotion he gave him. He said, “Without him, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Asked again if he had anything to add he immediately thanked his mother in German. His mother always spoke to her children in German even though she spoke perfect English. He then thanked his friends he had in Europe in French. Amon-Ra was not your ordinary kid.

On the football field he is equally exceptional. He is a slot receiver with great feet, oily hips to get into and out of breaks swiftly and very soft hands. Equally unique is his ability to work from the slot on short, intermediate, and long routes. Amon-Ra is not your typical little slot receiver; he is around 6’ 1” 200 lbs. He has some very good ball skills while being great in contested catch situations. He is not overtly fast, but he has functional speed to make big plays. From the slot on slants, digs, out and whip routes he has the ability to separate from defenders with lightning quick breaks out of cuts.

Here he is working from the slot near the top of the screen against a defender using off coverage. Amon-Ra uses a jab step inside before breaking outside to freeze the defender who is trying to jam him to hinder his route.

You can see the sharp break into the flat along with the athleticism plus the great hands. From another angle you can see better the action in the play.

Watch the quick feet, the ability to get into and out of breaks, and the great body control. The defender is in a trail position all the way. Even though the ball is thrown directly over his head the defender has no play on the ball. Even the attempts to grab then hold Amon-Ra are fruitless as his size and power out of breaks make it difficult for a defender to forcibly keeping him from his route without tackling him.

Like most slot receivers Amon-Ra doesn’t have blazing speed. He uses quickness in and out of breaks to gain separation. That doesn’t mean he lacks to ability to make splash plays. Amon-Ra has functional speed with a body more like a RB than a WR. He can make space for himself amongst defenders. Here Amon-Ra is is the same slot against the same team in Notre Dame who have fantastic athletes at every position.

This is a 38 yard TD pass down the seam to a slot receiver who splits the coverage while securing the ball with a nonchalant one handed catch. You can see how his size keeps the defender away from making a play on the ball. From another angle you can see the play unfold.

Amon-Ra gets a free release off the line with Notre Dame playing two deep safeties in a three safety defense. Alohi Gilman #11 who is playing the intermediate zone tries to get back into the seam to disrupt the play. He even tries to hold Amon-Ra to no avail. Safety Kyle Hamilton is late to the party to converge on the open receiver. His presence does literally nothing. This was a combination of a solid play by Amon-Ra and horrible safety play by the Fighting Irish. Maybe the fact that few slot receivers would ever venture down the seam was a factor in their poor coverage. That would mean they didn’t watch enough tape on their opponent before this game. (Note: Got to love how NBC always has great camera angles)

In this next clip against Stanford it is 3rd and 9 on the Stanford 28 on the opening drive of the game. Amon-Ra is in the slot to the left of the formation with the defense in man coverage. This is an immediate key to the QB to look for Amon-Ra. Since he is in the slot he will get a free release. Amon-Ra can get separation from most man coverage.

This is not your ordinary slot route that a Wes Welker or Julian Edelman would run. This is a 14 yard out route that is run 17 yards then broken off back to the 14 yard distance. Watch how the defender is in the hip pocket of Amon-Ra until the break then Amon-Ra breaks wide open. This is because Amon-Ra has the ability to make cuts at full speed, no slowing down or popping up which would be a clue to the defender of a impending break.

Amon-Ra is able plant his foot off a dead run, sink his hip, then explode out of the break. The QB is late with the ball so Amon-Ra is smart enough to give ground, coming back to the ball to protect against a CB coming from behind to make an interception. The result is a first down in the red zone. With his quick feet and oily hips Amon-Ra turns a difficult 3rd and 9 into an easy pitch and catch for a first down instead of a long FG attempt.

The next clip is easy to decipher as this is a straight “9” route down the left side of the defense. The fact that a slot receiver is running a “9” route is tantalizingly fantastic because no defender would now sit on a route. He runs expecting a quick out or dig route.

Amon-Ra comes off the snap hard and never slows up as he runs right by the defender. The single high safety is late getting over in coverage so all Amon-Ra has to do is catch the ball then hang on through contact. These are not normal routes for an NFL slot receiver to run, but if you throw in 3 or 4 a game against a defense it will open up the shorter routes as defenders will now have to protect against a deep threat. Also the over the shoulder catch is not something most slot receivers are accustomed to so it’s an added tool to his skill set.

This next set of 3 clips against Washington State all show different types of routes. All of these plays happened in the first quarter of the game. On the first play Amon-Ra is lined up as an outside receiver with WR Gary Bryant manning the slot position.

At the snap Bryant takes two steps then immediately cuts inside on a short dig route that clears the traffic for the primary receiver on the play, Amon-Ra. With no help anywhere near Amon-Ra has the defender at his mercy. He takes three steps toward the defender then plants a foot, cuts inside, crosses of the face of the defender, and is wide open at the goal line. Again the QB is late with the throw, which he tosses without striding The lollipop toss is slow and behind Amon-Ra who still easily grabs the pass for an easy score. If the defender was closer he could have knocked the ball down, but the break was so quick it left him too far away to make a play.

Later in the same game against Washington State Amon-Ra is lined up again in the slot to the left side of the formation with a defender playing man to man in off coverage. This is again a straight 9 route down the hash fading to the back corner of the end zone.

With a false step to the inside then back out Amon-Ra has a step on his man, but the ball is a hair late so he has to gauge where the best point to make the catch. Fortunately for him the defender has his back to the play so he has no idea where the ball is. When the defender looks back the ball is just sailing over his head then into the outstretched hands of the receiver Amon-Ra. He shows great athleticism to jump, make the catch, pull it in securely, and brace for the collision with the ground, all with a opponent draped all over him. This is a spectacular play that could not have been done any better.

Later in the same game, still in the first quarter Amon-Ra is matched on the outside again against the same cornerback he beat on the first touchdown. Remember Amon-Ra is just barely over 6’ around 200 lbs. He is not a big burly receiver, but he is a playmaker.

At the snap Amon-Ra fakes a diamond move to the inside then heads to the back corner of the end zone for the fade route. The throw is more to the center of the end zone which makes for a much more difficult catch. Instead of running away from coverage Amon-Ra has to adjust, move backwards with a defender right in his face, and jump to snag the pass. The defender can’t see the ball which helps although he reacts to Amon-Ra putting his hands up so he tries to take a swipe where he believes the pass will go. He guesses wrong. This was a first quarter trifecta of TDs by Amon-Ra against some decent coverage. He added another TD later in the game for a total of 4 for the game.

When you watch the tape Amon-Ra eats man coverage alive. His breaks out of cuts are fantastic. Amon-Ra agrees with that statemeny. He said, “This was the first time it felt like we were getting man-to-man looks. They came out early playing man. As receivers, we love matching up one-on-one.”

During the 2020 season in which the PAC 12 played only 6 games USC was undefeated but in trouble late in the game against Arizona State. The Trojans called a familiar successful play with Amon-Ra in the slot on the left side of the formation.

Amon-Ra was uncovered in the slot and went straight down the seam to catch a 36 yard reception between 3 defenders to spark a come back. Amon-Ra showed again great hands, nice vertical ability, and excellent athleticism on the catch. USC went on to win this game 28-27 to keep them perfect on the season.

Just so you don’t think the seam route plays are a fluke, here he is again in the same position, running the same route against another team.

What is different about this is first this play is not against a two deep safety look as every defensive player is within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Amon-Ra is being covered by a safety not a corner. He also was able to keep the player on his back with the throw out in front of him. By doing so he kept the defender from making a play on the ball, and the only way he could disrupt the play would be to interfere causing a penalty. Again this is great concentration, great athleticism and a nice vertical while running full speed.

Just so you know Amon-Ra has the skills to run more conventional slot routes here he is against cross town rivals UCLA. Here he is using a abbreviated diamond release I mentioned earlier. With the ILB’s both stepping up for some reason instead of back to take away throwing windows it leaves an easy pitch and catch on the play.

He is a nightmare as a slot receiver. He is also a team leader, which is rare for the slot role. This year Amon-Ra had over 100 yards receiving in the first two games but didn’t score a TD. Then in Week 4 he had 4 TDs against Washington State. His coach Clay Helton said “There’s a reason that C is on Amon-Ra St. Brown’s chest, he’s an unselfish player. You go through three games and you’re not in the end zone... He’s played the same unselfish, physical, tough game each week.”

The game against UCLA was a high scoring affair with the game decided in the last 20 seconds. Of course when he is outside with man coverage it’s hard for QB Kedon Slovis not to look his way.

This game winning TD gave him 6 TDs in the last 2 games after not scoring any in the first three games. This throw here was a very nice toss, perfect speed, perfect location because Amon-Ra beat his man quite badly off the line. The high throw was right over the defender’s head. The defender had no chance to stop the TD without interfering.

The last clip is against Arizona State with Amon-Ra in the slot to the right of the formation facing zone coverage. This again is the seam route from the slot against what looks like the three stooges in coverage. In any event it is a 95 yard TD against PAC 12 competition.

In 2020 Amon-Ra had 41 receptions for 478 yards and 7 TDs in 6 games after having 77 receptions for 1,042 yards and 6 TDs in 2019 in 13 games. That quite a lot of production for a slot receiver. Remember Michael Pittman was on the team in 2019, and he gathered in 101 receptions for 1275 yards with 11 TDs himself as the primary receiver. Tyler Vaughns was also there in 2019 (also in 2020). He had 74 receptions for 912 yards with 3 TDs himself. So Amon-Ra’s production isn’t because he was the only option available. Like his QB Kedon Slovis said, “It wasn’t like St. Brown was getting the ball every play. We were getting the ball to everyone.”

Summary

A player like Amon-Ra St. Brown is a nice player to add to a team seeking a rebuild. He has great character (a team captain) plus he is a productive yet unselfish player. A young person who would be a solid locker room presence but also a gamer on the field. He is much bigger than Jamison Crowder who is 5’ 9” 185 (Amon-Ra is listed at listed at 6’ 1” 195). I neglected to gets clip of Amon blocking but he is a very effective, tenacious blocker he doesn’t just get in the way.

He is not your normal slot receive but a player who can attack the defense on all there levels. This makes guarding him so much more difficult as he could be running any route not just a slant, out, whip or dig. He didn’t run a full route tree at USC because he was not asked to. With his skill set Amon-Ra would learn, then be productive on most routes he runs remembering that he is best in sharp breaking routes. He is excellent in contested catch situation with his larger than normal body for a slot player paying dividends.

Even though he is larger than most slot players he is still lightning quick out of breaks with quick feet plus soft hands. He is not immune to an occasional concentration lapse by dropping an easy pass, but those are the outlier, not the rule. Like most slot players he is quicker than fast. He may disappoint in a 40 time, but the tape doesn’t lie. He is a tough, smart, hardworking kid with solid skills. He will be productive.

Jamison Crowder has been a very productive player for the Jets when he has been on the field. He is only 28 years old, but he has missed an average of two games a year during his NFL career. His salary next year is for $11.5 million. The Jets could save $10.5 million of that with a release or a trade. That $11.5 million is 5.7% of the cap this year. If the cap drops down to $175 million (as reported) for 2021 that number rises to 6.6%. That money could be used to bring in a higher quality veteran offensive lineman or a corner.

This is very early in the process, but I have Amon-Ra a mid second round pick with 8 or 9 WR’s ahead of him. This could help push him down further in the Draft as there are also a plethora of offensive linemen that are of high drafting quality.

Amon-Ra would be a upgrade to the receiving corps which needs a serious upgrade. Plus if the Jets bring in a new QB they could be a tandem who could grow together for years to come. A high end slot receiver, a running game, and an offensive line are the best friends of a young QB. You have to prioritize your picks when the needs are plentiful like the Jets, and a slot receiver is usually down the list when you are rebuilding a team. Yet we have seen that Joe wants high character guys. Amon-Ra is one of those.

That is what I think.

What do you think?