2021 NFL Draft Profile: Baron Browning

Baron Browning NFL Draft

Baron Browning NFL Draft Overview

Position: Linebacker
Height: 6’-3”
Weight: 242 pounds
School: Ohio State

2021 NFL Draft: Baron Browning Player Profile

In a deep linebacker class, some prospects will inevitably be lost in the shuffle. Baron Browning is one such prospect who some scouts regard as an early second-round talent who hasn’t received a lot of media attention. Browning played regularly all four years with Ohio State. He has experience moving around linebacker positions and the athleticism jumps off the screen. 

A five-star recruit out of Kennedale High School in Kennedale, Texas, Browning was one of the top linebackers of his recruiting class. He committed to play football for the Ohio State Buckeyes, despite a strong push by Nick Saban and Alabama. 

Browning has always possessed the athletic ability and physical traits to play in the NFL. However, critics argue the production is not consistent enough to warrant an early-round pick. Browning’s most productive season came his junior year playing on the outside where he could set the edge and track down anything to the sideline. He recorded five sacks and 43 total tackles as a junior. Browning moved to the middle linebacker spot as a senior and was fairly productive in a shortened season. He recorded 29 total tackles in seven games and forced two fumbles. 

Strengths

  • Explosive athlete – elite speed for the position and good size;
  • Elite closing speed to make the tackle in space – cuts off angles;
  • Has experience playing across different linebacker spots;
  • Improved in coverage throughout college – has the athleticism to cover running backs and even some slot receivers;
  • Aggressive in the tackle – BIG hitter. 

Weaknesses

  • Inconsistency in his production;
  • Pre-snap recognition is lacking – explains the inconsistency in production, relies on athleticism to reacting to the play as it develops;
  • Reliance on reacting results in misses – fills in the wrong gaps, leads to big plays;
  • Coverage technique needs work – has the athleticism to cover running backs and tight ends, but the technique doesn’t consistently match the athleticism;
  • Occasionally gets stuck on a block in the run game.

NFL Comparison: Myles Jack

Browning is a little taller than Jack, 6’-1”, but the athletic ability is comparable. Jack is an elite athlete but wasn’t always consistent in coverage and awareness coming out of college. Like Jack, a team drafting Browning needs to find a spot on the field where he can best showcase his athletic ability. The explosive tackling technique and power is the most intriguing trait of both players. Jack has elite closing speed in open space, something Browning showcased throughout his college career. 

Teams With Need at Position: New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, Las Vegas Raiders, Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Rams

Projection: Day 2 Selection

Bottom Line on Baron Browning

Browning excels when he has the freedom to run. He projects as a uniquely athletic will-linebacker in a 4-3 scheme, with big defensive linemen in front of him to occupy blockers. While he has the strength and improved in block shedding as a senior, his athletic ability would be wasted if he can’t operate in space consistently. He’s an offensive gameplan wrecker as a hitter if left unblocked. He crashes in on running backs between the tackles quickly and can track down runners on the perimeter when unaccounted for. 

The closing speed and big hit ability will get coaches excited, however, Browning needs to be more disciplined if he is to succeed at the pro level. There seems to be a reliance on his athletic ability to make plays, rather than diagnose what’s going to happen pre-snap. When he doesn’t read the play correctly as it develops, he misses gap assignments, resulting in big plays. Improving his awareness and pre-snap recognition will increase the consistency in Brownings’ production that was missing in college. 

The 2021 draft class is full of exciting linebacker prospects and Browning is among the most athletic. Linebackers are generally a little undervalued in the NFL now, as nickel and dime packages are used more consistently now than ever before. However, Browning has the physical traits to get on the field in those packages, making him a day two target for teams in need of more speed in their linebacking unit. Teams will bet on their coaching staff’s ability to coach up Browning on the mental side of the game. The former Buckeyes linebacker has all the physical tools to succeed at the pro level.  

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