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Can WR Tony Brown manage to stick with the Washington Football Team in 2021?

NFL: Washington Football Team OTA Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Who?

Tony Brown is a wide receiver who appears to be fighting an uphill battle to make it in the NFL. He isn’t particularly big or fast, and he doesn’t sport any eye-popping stats from his four years playing in the Big 12 and PAC 12 conferences. He only has a single career punt return, and he was waived four times by a total of three NFL teams a year ago. He has been active for just a single NFL game (Washington’s home game against Dallas in October 2020) in which he played 4 offensive snaps and didn’t break onto the stats sheet.

In short, Brown is a long shot.

Athleticism

Readers who have gotten used to seeing RAS cards for Washington Football Team players over recent months have probably become accustomed to a sea of green with notations of “Great” and “Elite”. Tony Brown’s RAS card, by contrast, is a sea of red and yellow. The Receiver ran a 4.65 40 time, earning a “poor” grade for speed. His explosion measures are “okay” and agility another “poor”.

Statistical production

In two seasons at Texas Tech and another two at Colorado, Brown’s statistical production was adequate, but nothing special.

His most productive season came in 2019 as a senior when he pulled in 56 passes from quarterback Steven Montez for a total of 707 yards. While his 4-year totals of 115 catches for 1,418 yards and 7 touchdowns are nice for the average college receiver, they don’t comprise the kind of flashy production that usually signal a successful career in the NFL.

In the NFL

Looking at the 12 receivers on the Washington Football Team depth chart, I can’t help but feel that the other eleven guys all have to be ahead of Tony Brown.

Undrafted last year, he was initially signed by the Cleveland Browns following the draft, but was waived near the start of training camp. The Giants scooped him up, but waived him just prior to the end of training camp. He became a free agent for a few days, but Washington signed him, then waived him, then re-signed him to the Practice Squad in a busy 6-day stretch prior to the start of the regular season.

As mentioned earlier, Brown was active for just a single game in late October, and was waived in early November, ending his 2020 season. He was signed to a futures contract after Washington’s playoff loss to Tampa Bay in January.

Why is he on the roster?

In an effort to find out what the coaches might see in Brown, I searched for profile information on him, and found one written by Browns Nation when the receiver was first signed as a UDFA by Cleveland post-draft last year. Here are some of the positives from that profile:

Brown is an above-average route runner with an outstanding ability to go up and catch 50-50 balls.

It appears Brown has limited athleticism, but Cleveland believes that he has enough upside to warrant giving him an invite to camp.

Brown runs routes well, catches contested balls, and has a unique toughness to his game.

He is a smart, competitive receiver, so there is some upside to his game.

Bottom line

It’s hard to find a lot to get excited about in 2nd-year wide receiver Tony Brown. He seems like the kind of guy who may be fortunate to have spent the majority of the 2020 season under contract as a pro, and it wouldn’t be shocking if last season’s Dallas game turns out to be the only NFL appearance in what is likely to be a career spent on the periphery of the league. Brown looks like a practice squad player who manages to stick around through a combination of toughness, hard work and attitude, but who probably doesn’t possess the physical tools to really thrive at the NFL level.

I hope Brown proves me wrong and that I someday have to issue a public apology for doubting him, but at this early stage of Tony Brown’s career, it seems like the best he can hope for in the 2021 season is a spot on the practice squad and the opportunity to continue to develop.