WR Vincent Brown, Free agent
HT: 5-11, WT: 184, Born: 1-25-1989, College: San Diego State, Drafted: Round 3
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Vincent Brown was a standout in training camp and the preseason leading into the 2012 season, but a broken ankle in the final preseason game sidelined him for the year. When he made his comeback in 2013, it fell flat. Before the injury, people were excited about Brown's route-running, his quickness out of his cuts, and his aggressiveness when the ball was in the air. After returning from injury, those qualities were lacking. The question is whether Brown can put 2013 behind him and develop into the the kind of receiver that had people so excited about his prospects back in 2012. Until that question is answered, consider Brown an unlikely fantasy contributor, but one who has significant upside potential if he can regain the quickness and aggressiveness he showed before last year's injury. A calf injury kept Brown sidelined for three weeks at the beginning of this year's training camp, allowing Tevin Reese, Dontrelle Inman, and Seyi Ajirotutu to shine in his absence, and casting at least a bit of doubt on Brown's likelihood of making the final roster.
2013 Game Summaries
Week 1 - As of the two minute warning in the first half, Eddie Royal was the only San Diego wide receiver to record a reception. In fact, Brown’s name wasn’t even called once. He was finally targeted late in the first half on a deep ball, but stumbled coming out of his break to throw off the timing. It was unfortunate too, since he had seemingly beaten his man on the play. Fortunately for Brown, he caught a crossing route just before halftime and made a beeline for the corner of the end zone. Brown dove towards the pylon and was ruled to have barely gone out of bounds just shy of the goal line. But since the play was inside of two minutes, it went to an automatic booth review and Brown was ruled to have grazed the pylon prior to going out of bounds. With the touchdown in-hand and finally having his name called, he nearly got into the end zone in the second half as well. QB Philip Rivers threw one low and behind Brown on the blitz. Because of the hurried nature of the play, the ball was off-target. Had Rivers gotten a bit more time and been able to lead Brown a bit, it may have gone for a score. As it was, it was a minimal 3-yard gain but he still showed tremendous hands in snagging it off of his shoe tops and was taken down at the doorstep of the goal line.
Week 2 - The Chargers are clearly not making an effort to focus on getting the ball to brown. He made a nice early catch with his defender draped all over him, but his work after that was very limited. In a game where QB Philip Rivers threw for over 400 yards and three touchdowns, Brown saw only a handful of short passing targets. He was targeted on one deep ball down the sideline that he tried hauling in with one hand, but it fell incomplete. Even when starting WR Malcom Floyd left the game with an injury, it was rookie WR Keenan Allen and not Brown, who really saw an increase in activity.
Week 3 - At this point, it looks safe to assume that the preseason hype on Brown was not matched by San Diego’s plans on getting him the football. He caught two short passes in the first half (both with defenders hanging all over him), but wasn’t able to pick up anything much after the catch. In the second half, he was targeted in the end zone from a yard out. Despite being held on the play, no call was made by the officials, and the ball was knocked away for an incompletion.
Week 4 - Brown seems very close to putting up a noteworthy game, but hasn’t been able to put it all together yet. He was targeted on a deep ball on the first place of the game. He may have had a step on his defender, but the ball was slightly underthrown and fell incomplete. Later in the half, Brown made a diving attempt for a catch over the middle, but couldn’t come up with the ball. His third down routes were caught, but unfortunately run shy of the first down marker on more than one occasion. But he showed signs of understanding later in the game. He converted a third down conversion in the third quarter, and had a critical third down conversion in the fourth quarter. Facing a key third down and one with under eight minutes remaining, he was hit short of the first down marker, but managed to spin off of the defender and extend his arm beyond the line to gain to move the chains and keep the clock going. Brown once again fell shy of scoring, for the second straight week he drew a pass interference penalty in the red zone (last week in the end zone, this week at the 5-yard line).
Week 5 - Brown finally had the breakout game that's been expected of him all season long. He did a nice job getting open against the Oakland secondary and showed good hands when the ball came in his direction. He still doesn't look terribly explosive, but he knows how to use his body well and made a couple of very nice adjustments. On one such adjustment, he was streaking downfield and looking over his right shoulder for the ball. But QB Philip Rivers put the ball pretty much straight over his head. Brown made an adjustment to turn his head while never taking his eyes off of the football. It looked a bit awkward, but it turned out to be a great grab and a 51-yard pickup. Brown later got wide open deep downfield for what looked to be a long touchdown pass from Rivers. The ball floated a bit, but eventually got to him. Unfortunately for Brown owners, the Chargers were whistled for an illegal formation penalty that negated the long touchdown. It was a terrific move by Brown, who is starting to show signs (along with Keenan Allen) that they are ready to take over the reins in the San Diego receiving game.
Week 6 - Brown's emergence has taken a back seat to the rapid ascension of rookie Keenan Allen, but Brown has been making strides in his own right. He again played second fiddle to Allen in this game, but he is seemingly always going to have an opportunity to put up a big play or two. He was targeted deep down the sideline early in the game. He looked to have an opportunity to come down with it, but Rivers hung the ball in the air forever and gave the defender a chance to position himself a bit better. Brown was unable to out-leap him for the ball. Brown did haul in two receptions, one of which displayed incredible hands by going very high in the air of the middle to snag it. The catch was all "hands" as he used his body to shield the defender a bit, then plucked it out of mid-air. His only other catch came on a back shoulder pass along the left sideline. He came back to dive at the ball, and still had time to get back up and turn up the field. That kind of demonstrates how badly he had beaten his man in the first place, that he had all that time after the catch.
Week 7 - Brown made two nice grabs in the game, but they were two of the only times Rivers even looked in his direction. His first catch was a sideline grab where he was working out of the slot. Brown was open for a long time on the play, and Rivers saw him at the last moment for the first down pickup. Brown's other catch was a tough diving/sliding grab over the middle to pick up another first down to get out of the shadow of their own end zone. Despite the nice ball skills, Rivers clearly prefers working with WR Keenan Allen who saw the vast majority of the WR targets in the game.
Week 9 - The early targets to Brown weren't really put where they needed to be. Of course, he once again had trouble gaining very much separation from his defender. He did break free on a deep out in the first half, but the ball was thrown out of his reach. The most damning play involving Brown looked like some miscommunication between he and QB Philip Rivers. As Brown streaked up the field, he broke his route to the outside while Rivers delivered the ball inside. With no one there but a defender, it was an easy interception. Brown did make a nice grab reaching up high and wide on a ball thrown a bit away from his body early in the fourth quarter, but it was to be his only meaningful positive play of the entire game.
Week 10 - Brown's frustrating season continued, as he had one opportunity to come up with a big play and instead let it slip between his fingers. QB Philip Rivers hoisted a perfect pass to the back of the end zone, and while it may have been tipped a bit by the defender, it was still a catchable ball. Instead, it bounced off his hands incomplete. Brown did later come back to make several outstanding catches, but none would have been as impactful as the missed scoring chance. One was a grab over the middle where he lunged out for the ball and held on despite having a defender all over him. The next was a fantastic catch where Brown reached far away from his body to haul it in, twisting in mid-air to convert a key third down pass play. When he landed, Brown was about a yard shy of the first down marker but plunged forward through the would-be tackler to pick up the first down.
Week 11 - Even with WR Keenan Allen lacking targets early on and injured late, Brown still didn't really see a significant number of looks. Brown was the intended target on the lone turnover of the game, a first half Philip Rivers interception. It appeared that Brown may have gone the wrong way on the play, moving towards the inside when Rivers actually expected him to go out. The miscommunication resulted in the easy pick. With the aforementioned Allen out of the game late, Brown got back to back receptions to open the team's desperation drive at the end of regulation. And on the final play of the game, Rivers heaved a "Hail Mary" pass into the end zone. Brown actually got one-on-one coverage on the play, but he was unable to get good positioning on the defender, who stepped in between Brown and the football and batted it down incomplete.
Week 12 - Even watching the game, it was a surprise to see late in the contest that Brown was actually playing. With Keenan Allen dominating the first half, Brown was nowhere to be seen. In fact, he wasn't even mentioned until the team's game-winning drive. Brown got open along the sideline and should have had an easy first down, but he slipped coming out of his break so the ball was thrown incomplete out of bounds. That was the extent of Brown's work, as he took a back seat to not only Allen, but also Eddie Royal and Seyi Ajirotutu (who caught the eventual game-winner).
Week 13 - Brown did a nice job hanging onto a pass over the middle that QB Philip Rivers fired in to him on the run. Brown took a big hit just as he caught it, but he did a good job of hanging on and making sure the ball never moved. Despite trailing most of the afternoon, Brown never really established any kind of rapport with Rivers. He appears to have even slipped behind TE Ladarius Green on the team's go-to receiver list. At this point, he is a starter in name only because he is probably the sixth option (at best) in the pecking order for the team's passing targets.
Week 14 - Brown continued to underwhelm, once again taking a back seat to fast-emerging rookie Keenan Allen. He's a pretty safe bet for a handful of receptions, but also very unlikely to do much with them. He did show some nice moves after the catch for a first down grab early on (the Giants had jumped offsides, so the team would have converted a first down anyway) on what was essentially a free play. His biggest play of the game was a pass interference penalty he drew in the end zone facing one on one coverage. The ball was underthrown and Brown tried coming back on the route, but it wasn't close to being completed.
Week 15 - Brown was the high man on San Diego both in terms of receptions and receiving yardage, but he once again took a back seat in fantasy production to the two touchdown game from fellow WR, rookie Keenan Allen. Brown made a tough sideline grab early on, doing a nice job of keeping his feet inbounds and dragging his heel behind him. He actually may have been out of bounds, but the Chargers snapped the next play before Denver had a chance to challenge. Brown's other two receptions were both diving grabs, much like the first. The first one was a comeback route along the sidelien. The second was a perfectly-thrown ball on a deep route down the sideline that Rivers placed in Brown's lap and about half a step past the defender.
Week 16 - Brown started his day well with an easy grab over the middle on a "free play" crossing route to convert a third down (Oakland had jumped offsides but the first down conversion rendered the penalty meaningless). His other reception was also in the first half when he found a soft spot wide open in the zone to pick up 28 yards. It almost looked like he couldn't believe how much room he had when he caught the ball and turned around to see nobody in front of him. The rest of Brown's game was a microcosm of his season. He was targeted on a deep out route and had the ball in his hands while he was spinning towards the sideline, but had it knocked out of his hands by the defender. He didn't really catch it cleanly when he first got his hands on it, which is likely the main reason it was so easily knocked away. Late in the game, he nearly brought in a deep ball down the sideline but he couldn't keep himself inbounds. His body just wasn't really positioned properly to catch it inbounds, even though he did make a nice grab on the play.