Heading into 2010 the receiver position is in a much different state that it was headed into 2009. A year ago the Lions were looking to replace one of the most impressive receiving trios in Blue-White history made up of Derrick Williams, Jordan Norwood and Deon Butler, all in the NFL currently. This year the Lions are boasting some seasoned targets, led by Derek Moye and Graham Zug.
Although he was a true freshman last season, Brown saw limited action in 10 games. On the year he pulled in five passes for 78 yards. Despite his limited reps, he showed strong potential given his size, strength and "deceptive speed."
Justin Brown, WR (6-foot-3, 210 pounds)
Aside from seeing some receiver snaps, Brown also fielded seven punts for 41 yards. Many observers feel that the combination of his size and speed "are what the coaches are looking for physically with their receivers."
Although Penn State has Moye and Zug as their "lead horses" in the receiving unit, Brown along with Drake are mentioned most often as the young prospects who are expected to have the greatest chance to make a quick impact on the rotation this coming season.
Build: Said to be a "legitimate" 6-foot-3, Brown's size and overall physical build are among his greatest strengths. At upwards of 210 pounds, he also has good size that "allows him to stay on his routes and get physical with the coverage." Brown has focused on improving his strength this past year and has "gotten a lot stronger, especially off the line."
Speed: Said to be "deceptively quick" for his size, Brown runs a high 4.4-range 40-yard dash. He's not as explosive as Shawney Kersey or Curtis Drake, but as one observer said, "He can hit a post quick and has gotten much sharper on his routes, hitting the right route depths."
Hands: Observers feel that Brown has improved with his receiving skills and does a much better job "looking balls in before he tries to take off." He's spent a lot of time last season catching balls and "setting his hands as a target," although there are those who still feel he needs to improve on "tucking and protecting the ball better."
Routes: "He's gotten smarter with his routes," as one observer said. He's said to be more "crisp" with his cuts and "is much better hitting the precise yardage on his route."
Improvement: Aside from protecting the ball once he pulls it in, Brown "needs to protect himself on a hit -- he leaves himself wide open at times and has been punished for it at times" this spring. The coaches have been "working him hard on the finer points of his game." However, many are pleased with the progress he has made over the last year.
Impact: Penn State has a solid base with Zug and Moye, but the consensus is that Brown is positioned to be a key player in the rotation along with Curtis Drake. Observers like his size and quickness and he's made major strides with his hands and route-running. He still has some refinement work to do, but with the playbook down and some added confidence thanks to his limited experience last year many think that he is poised to help the young quarterbacks significantly this coming season.
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