Notre Dame wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, the eldest of a budding family football dynasty, has elected to forgo his senior season to enter the NFL Draft. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound junior has the length that evaluators love, as well as the youth that dynasty owners crave.
But with just one season of sustained production on his resume, questions still remain. With the combine just days away, let’s take a look at what we know about St. Brown at this point in the draft process.
St. Brown was essentially an active redshirt as a freshman, catching just one pass in two games worth of action. As a sophomore however, his production skyrocketed, accounting for 32 percent of Notre Dame’s receiving yards and TDs. In 2017, St. Brown was much less efficient, posting a 44.6 percent catch rate on 74 targets resulting in a paltry 7.0 yards per target. The decrease in efficiency from his sophomore to junior season is worth noting.
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It’s important to point out how bad Notre Dame’s overall passing game was in 2017, ranking 64th in Passing S&P+ and 110th in Passing Success Rate according to Football Study Hall. Quarterbacks Brandon Wimbush and Ian Book combined to complete just 52 percent of their throws on the season. While some of the blame for St. Brown’s final year drop off in both production and efficiency falls at his own feet, it’s clear he wasn’t operating within a highly functionally passing offense, making things difficult from the jump.
When St. Brown and Wimbush/Book did hook up, it generally resulted in a big play. St. Brown averaged 15.6 yards per catch, just slightly below his career average of 16.1. The ability to stretch the field vertically can often persuade draft evaluators to brush aside sub-par statistical production, which may end up being the case here.
To get a more complete picture of what St. Brown’s raw stats actually mean, let’s reference Kevin Cole’s trusty WR Regression Tree for further analysis.
St. Brown fails to hit both the career market share of receiving yards threshold of 29 percent and the final season receiving yards barrier, landing him in the cohort of past prospects with the least likelihood of future success. While St. Brown’s production profile is a bit hit or miss, his age-adjusted profile is much stronger.
At 21.3 years old, Equanimeous St. Brown is the sixth-youngest WR in this year’s class. He also boasts a breakout season at age 20.3, a positive indicator of future success. Thirty-five percent of the top-100 picks with St. Brown’s breakout age have reached the 200-point plateau in at least one of their first three seasons.
As a potential top-100 draft pick with an always-important combine invite to his name, St. Brown is one of the more intriguing WR prospects in this class. Scouts rave about his length, acceleration, and athleticism, comparing him to Miami Dolphins WR DeVante Parker.
I do have some reservations about the precipitous drop in production and efficiency from his penultimate season to his final season, as well as his poor showing on the regression tree, but breaking out at a relatively young age somewhat assuages these concerns. Brown is a high-ceiling dynasty asset worth your investment when rookie drafts roll around.