DeAndre Brown: The definition of 'boom' or 'bust' prospect

DeAndre Brown is a former big-time, five-star recruit coming out of high school and is arguably the biggest recruit ever to land at Southern Miss. He immediately made his presence felt on the field in 2008 as the 6-6, 240-pound physical specimen hauled in 67 receptions for 1,117 yards and 12 touchdowns.

For a guy his size he displays a good initial first step off the line and really does have an explosive element to his game – when healthy. He’s not a burner, but is a powerful athlete who can easily shrug off defenders when getting into his routes and possesses the kind of strider speed that is tough to keep pace with. The further down the field he’s asked to run the tougher he is to cover and overall he’s very difficult for opposing defensive backs to keep pace with him on vertical routes.

He also possesses some natural fluidity for a big guy when asked to snap off more sharply breaking routes. Displays good balance out of his breaks, keeps his feet under him and can create an initial burst when trying to change directions and separate for his size. He isn’t a real polished/clean route runner at this stage and will round off his breaks routinely, but for his size you can see a he’s a really naturally gifted athlete.

Therefore, if you have this potentially dominant freshman wideout who runs well for his size, has some natural fluidity/balance as a route runner and exhibits a real explosive element to his game, why isn’t he now a potential first-round pick?

The Answer: Brown is a character and medical concern. He brutally broke his left leg in the final game of his freshman season and missed the start of his sophomore year because of it. He also missed time during 2009 with a shoulder injury. Missed seven games this past year with a lower leg strain and never really appeared healthy during the 2010 season because of it, playing with a noticeable gimp. There are also some major questions about his work ethic, attitude and off the field character, as Brown has had some run-ins with the coaching staff at Southern Miss and was arrested in July 2010 on charges of disorderly conduct.

When you hear reports like this and talk to scouts in the area the one word that keeps coming up when describing Brown is “immature." And if you have a prospect who is immature there are typically a pair of qualities that routinely seem to pop up.

The first is that immature prospects struggle to handle adversity.

The second is that immature prospects struggle to stay healthy because they don’t handle pain well.

Now, in no way am I saying that Brown needed to play through his broken leg. But he’s been injury riddled ever since and you have to question the guy’s passion to get healthy, put in the work in rehab and get back onto to the football field as quickly as possible.

Brown is an impressive natural talent; there is no denying that. And the fact that he is such a talent has me thinking he will still hear his name called sometime during the mid/late portions of the 2011 NFL draft. He’s the kind of prospect who, if he ever gets it all together, has the skill set to be a very good starting wideout in the NFL. But if he doesn’t, Brown could be out of the NFL sooner rather than later.

A simple case of risk vs. reward.

Follow me on Twitter: @WesBunting

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