Throughout the summer, National Scout Jon Ledyard, Assistant Director Joe Marino and Scouting Director Kyle Crabbs will be conducting summer assessments on 99 notable senior prospects. Of these 99 seniors, the 33 most prominent will be covered by all three analysts.
Of the remaining 66, each of the three analysts has “drafted” 22 of them to scout exclusively.
This serves as the foundation for our 2018 draft assessments.
Scout: Jon Ledyard
Name: Max Browne
Date of Birth: 2/2/1995
College: Pittsburgh (USC)
High School: Skyline (WA)
Games Played: 18 (redshirt)
Games Started: 3
Team Captain: Yes
Production: 69-112 (62%), 650 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions
High School: Consensus 5-star recruit. Gatorade National Football Player of the Year. USA TODAY All-USA Offensive Player of the Year. Parade All-American. 247 sports composite no. 1 ranked pro-style quarterback in the country. 13 total offers, including Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Oklahoma, UCLA, Wisconsin and others.
College: Undergraduate degree in Communication. Pursuing masters in Customer Insights.
Strengths: Prototypical size and build for the position. Arm strength for distance and velocity appears solid. Generally accurate in the short game. Maintains solid upper body mechanics when throwing from a clean pocket. Quick, smooth release. Rhythm passer who can settle in when he feels comfortable. Flashes of poise, downfield accuracy, touch and ability to throw on the move, but not consistent yet.
Weaknesses: Skittish under pressure and can crumble quickly in the pocket. Deep ball accuracy is inconsistent. Pushes the ball out of his hand without a smooth lower-body follow through to maximize velocity. Will get tunnel vision and lock onto a receiver too often. Full-field progressions are a struggle. Decision-making is a question mark at times, throws into non-existent windows in panic. Pure pocket passer who loses accuracy when forced to re-set his platform quickly and throw. Ball placement to lead receivers into YAC can improve, even in the short game.
Summary: I could have written more under each of the above categories, but the bottom line is this: Max Browne has to start consistently for us to see what he is about as a player. There was simply nothing consistent about his three starts at USC last season, only two of which came against other Power 5 schools. He’s thrown just 112 passes in his career, and 57 of them came against Alabama and Stanford, the only worthy competition he’s ever faced as a starter. Browne’s offensive line was beaten to crap against the Crimson Tide, and while he did struggle and wilt considerably under pressure, it was his first start ever against one of the best defenses in college football history.
There’s simply not a lot that can be gleaned about what Browne actually will become as a quarterback, although it is clearly a little troubling that he didn’t start until his fourth season at USC despite being a five-star recruit. Obviously the team felt strongly about Cody Kessler, but Browne clearly has the better physical tools, as he showed the ability to hit all levels of the field with a strong arm, although I think a few lower body mechanical tweaks could improve his pace on the ball.
There were a few plays where Browne showed exceptional poise as he was about to be drilled, but in the vast majority of his reps he did not stand tall against pressure. That’s not unexpected from a quarterback with little on-field experience, but where Browne really seemed to struggle was in moving through his progressions and coming off of reads that were covered, the mental processing aspects of the position.
In Pitt’s offense Browne will likely be asked to operate a lot of play-action, bootlegs and half-field reads, which should put a little less pressure on him than USC’s aggressive downfield passing attack. He’ll probably be a better college quarterback at Pitt than USC, but how consistent Browne is against quality competition with (hopefully) a full season as a starter under his belt will be key to projecting his talent to the next level. If he can’t show the ability to do NFL-caliber things on a consistent basis at any point in his college career, it’ll be unlikely that a team will take a chance on drafting him in the top 100 picks.
Predicted Value Range: Day 3