By: Chip Turner
Baron Browning – Ohio State
6’3” – 245 pounds
Please note that for the purposes of LB analysis, I’m going to start using Pro Day information. Is some of it skewed due to not being as level of a playing field as a Draft Combine? Most certainly, particularly 40 times…but it certainly doesn’t seem to be skewed to the point it shouldn’t be considered.
Baron Browning finished his college career on the rise, and improved his draft stock considerably over the past several months. He’s got good size for the position, and he’s fast, explosive, and agile. In short, he’s a fantastic athlete who had a phenomenal Pro Day. He’s not only a run-stuffing force, but also solid in coverage; he hits like a truck, and he’s a true three-down LB in the NFL, which is becoming extremely valuable to NF teams. As secondaries are becoming more and more specialized to deal with a variety of offensive schemes, linebackers who don’t have to be substituted out on passing downs are key. Browning won’t be someone who can cover an elite WR in the NFL, but that’s not where you want any LB. He should do just fine against most TE and RB, and he’s versatile enough to play in almost any linebacking scheme; he played inside at Ohio State during 2019 and then moved outside in 2020, proving adept at both.
Browning showed inconsistent play early in his college career, but came on nicely in the second half of his junior year, then became a dominant force in his senior year. What I found interesting is that he “disappeared” on the stat sheet for the Penn State game in 2020 – but that’s because he covered Pat Freiermuth for a good number of snaps. Freiermuth was held to 3 receptions for 46 yards that game. Browning can misdiagnose plays at times; he’s better at instinctive “read and react”. His instincts are generally very good, but there were instances where he over-pursued plays and ended up out of position.
Baron Browning closed out his college career with a flourish, and should be an impact LB in the NFL. He’ll make whichever team he’s drafted by better, fairly quickly – he might have a short adjustment period in the NFL, but he’s so athletic it’s going to be difficult to keep him off the field. I suspect he’s a lot higher in NFL GM’s rankings than many mock drafters; he’s likely to be selected during the first two days of the NFL Draft, but if he isn’t, some team is going to get a steal.