The Philadelphia Eagles signed Shepherd wide receiver Billy Brown as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2017 NFL Draft and converted him to the tight end position. In order to learn more about the new Eagles pass catcher, I reached out to The Journal sports editor Rick Kozlowski. It wasn’t easy finding someone with knowledge about the Division II Shepherd Rams. Thankfully, Rick was kind enough to answer my questions.
1) Can you sum up what his college career was like?
He had a tremendous college career. It was obvious from his freshman year when he caught a fourth-and-forever pass in the final minute of a game in which Shepherd trailed by seven points on the road at West Liberty. He caught it while on his back for what looked like would be a tying touchdown - except the kicker missed the extra point. A broken leg curtailed his sophomore season, but he came back with no ill effects.
2) What are his strengths?
His hands are his greatest attribute. He made difficult catches look routine, sitting, standing, stretching, and he was counted on to make the important catches as Shepherd enjoyed its greatest success with a national championship game appearance and a second final four in a row last season. Shepherd is regarded as the best football program in the Mountain East Conference and, before that, the West Virginia Conference. Oh, those hands.
3) What are his weaknesses?
He doesn't have prototypical wide receiver speed, but that never seemed to a deterrent. In fact, I've seen him run past defensive backs numerous times and has the ability to adjust his routes. He and quarterback Jeff Ziemba seemed to have an "understanding." Ask either one about it, and they'll just say they both know what the other would do.His weakness is probably that speed aspect, but, at the same time, he has a body and knows how to use it to get into position to make catches.
4) Are you surprised he went undrafted?
Yes, I was astounded he went undrafted. I don't know if it's the little-school thing or what. I have seen numerous pro scouts at Shepherd practices over the last three or four years, plenty of them. They have shown up for pro day there, yet none in many years have been drafted, but a few have made pro teams as free agents. I expected Billy Brown was going to be the one to hear his name.
5) How do you see his NFL career playing out?
I think his pro career will be predicated on how he adjusts to being a tight end, that's the biggest thing. How he gets off the line from the interior will be key, as well as how he blocks in that situation. Those hands, though, give him a huge upper hand. He definitely can catch the ball.
6) What’s your impression of him off the field?
As for his demeanor off the field, he was a pretty shy guy early on. But as he matured as a player, his personality followed, too. He's never been the gregarious type in that regard, but he knew what he could do. He displayed confidence without the cockiness you sometimes see from players. He has played up the underdog card to a degree, which, I think will benefit him as a worker in trying to make the adjustment to a tight end.
I think he has a future as a pro somewhere.
BLG’s Take: Brown made a few nice catches in Eagles spring practices. More than anything, I was intrigued by his frame. He could be a practice squad candidate as a rookie.
Check out some of his game tape below via Draft Breakdown.