Why the Slide?: Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame
By Charlie Campbell, @draftcampbell
Four years ago, we started a series of articles on why certain prospects went undrafted. In that series, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. We got a lot of positive reader feedback about the series, so we decided to expand in the genre to investigate why some prospects slid in the draft. Three years ago, we started the Why the Slide? series, and this year it is back. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.
The 2018 NFL Draft was known to be a weak year at wide receiver, yet there were plenty of teams around the NFL that needed receiver talent. One of the receivers with among the best combinations of size and speed was Notre Dame’s Equanimeous St. Brown. St. Brown checked in at 6-foot-5, 214 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in a surprising 4.48 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine.
On top of his skill set, St. Brown had some impressive performances during his college career. He put together a strong 2016 season with 58 receptions for 961 yards and nine touchdowns while quarterback DeShone Kizer had an inconsistent season. In 2017, St. Brown was held to 33 receptions for 515 yards and four touchdowns as Notre Dame had some of the worst quarterback play in all of college football. Brandon Wimbush completed less than 50 percent of his passes as the Fighting Irish featured a rushing offense. Despite the meager season, it was understandable why St. Brown entered the 2018 NFL Draft with Wimbush returning to Notre Dame for next season. Surprisingly, St. Brown slipped to the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
First of all, this draft analyst among others was just too high on St. Brown, who had received a lot of mid-round grades according to sources from a handful of teams. One college scouting director said their team had a third-round grade on St. Brown and considered him in the middle of the draft, but needed a different type of receiver, so they passed. That team did say they really liked St. Brown and thought he had the potential to be a receiver like Martavis Bryant.
Still, the mid-rounds aren’t the late rounds, so St. Brown had a slide beyond just being graded lower than expected. One source said the reason why he slid was he a little bit of a weirdo coming from a unique situation, was a one-trick pony, had inconsistent hands, and average mental toughness. One team executive said they weren’t that impressed with St. Brown as a player, although they acknowledged that he had upside. So, it ended up being a combination of factors that caused St. Brown to fall all the way to the 207th selection.
The Green Bay Packers ended St. Brown’s fall, but that is a mixed landing spot for him. With Jordy Nelson being released and Randall Cobb nearing the end of his time in Green Bay, there is definitely the possibility for St. Brown to earn a starting spot. Davante Adams is locked in at one spot, and after him, the Packers could use some young talent to emerge. The bad part for St. Brown is Green Bay took two receivers ahead of him in the 2018 NFL Draft, and teams typically give those players more opportunities. The Packers also have some young developmental receivers with more experience in Geronimo Allison and DeAngelo Yancy who St. Brown will have to compete with for a roster spot along with fellow rookies J’Mon Moore – fourth round from Missouri – and Marquez Valdes-Scantling – fifth round from South Florida. Showing the ability to contribute on special teams would be huge for St. Brown’s hopes of earning a roster spot. St. Brown has an opportunity to stick with Green Bay and earn real playing time, but he probably does not have a big margin for error next preseason.
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