When Equanimeous St. Brown decided to forgo his senior season and declare for the NFL Draft it surprised some considering he had a down year in 2017. If former NFL great Reggie Wayne is anywhere close to right though, St. Brown made a wise decision. The former Colt great has St. Brown rated as the #2 wide receiver in the entire 2018 NFL Draft.
Here is Wayne’s top 5 and the video from the NFL Network segment.
.@reggiewayne_17's top 🖐 WR prospects this draft:
5. Courtland Sutton
4. James Washington
3. Christian Kirk
2. Equanimeous St. Brown
1. Calvin Ridley pic.twitter.com/2oefGXjNiV
— NFL Total Access (@NFLTotalAccess) February 22, 2018
The reason this might be surprising for Notre Dame fans isn’t because St. Brown doesn’t have talent – he showed freakish athleticism at times over the past two years. What he didn’t show much however is the ability to win 50/50, contested balls on the college level and that is something he will have to do if he wants a long NFL career.
From an athleticism standpoint, it could be very easy for a scout to fall in love with St. Brown heading into the draft. He is likely to put up some great testing numbers at the combine. It will be interesting to watch his 40 time in Indianapolis though. St. Brown was never seen as a burner, but he has some underrated speed and could put up a faster number than most Irish fans expect.
Reggie Wayne does know a thing or two about playing wide receiver in the NFL. He is currently 10th all-time in both receptions and receiving yards and has a pretty sold case for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day.
As Wayne pointed out, St. Brown’s quarterback play was the primary culprit for St. Brown’s huge drop in production. He could have had a monster year if Brandon Wimbush had not struggled as much as he did with accuracy throughout the year. St. Brown specifically could have had a lengthy highlight reel of long touchdowns in 2017 had Wimbush been able to connect with him on deep balls.
It will be interesting to watch where St. Brown lands in the draft and how his NFL career progresses. All of the talent is there for a long NFL career.
Any ND fan that truly knows the game and can evaluate talent well saw that EQ took a huge step back this year. Don’t blame Wimbush, at least not to the extent that some have and how EQ’s dad did. Sorry but I saw plenty of opportunities for EQ to make a play on a ball but it’s almost as if his ball skills (tracking in the air) regressed or something. He adjusted poorly to the ball in the air this season, didn’t turn on an extra gear to go get a couple that I thought he could have caught that were slightly out in front of him, and also dropped way too many passes that actually hit him in the hands. My guess is the receivers coming out this year are not all that great which may be some of the reason EQ came out to begin with. I haven’t even heard of the others in Wayne’s top 5.
Stepherson was the best all around receiver we had last season and he is the one we lost that is going to kill us. He ran very clean, quick, routes. He had great hands and great ball skills. I think we threw him more fades (50/50 balls) than any of the other receivers and he was the shortest. Reminded me of Golden Tate in that aspect only Steph could get behind anyone who was out there kind of like Will Fuller. Steph was our next really great receiver. I do think Claypool will be that guy this year. I just wish he had just a little more speed to burn guys deep too.
I agree with this comment, Chris. I liked EQ and I think he had a high ceiling after that 2016 season (he was really one of the few bright spots from that 4-8 debacle). I really liked your point about EQs dad, who was very openly critical of BW. It is merely a conspiracy theory idea, but I wonder if EQ knew deep down he was coming out of school and declaring for the draft after this season regardless, so that could be a reason why he didn’t give maximum effort on those contested throws.
Stepherson’s TD catch against USC is a perfect example of your second paragraph. It was a back shoulder throw at the front pylon (an absolutely beautiful throw by BW, might I ad) and Stepherson made a great adjustment to turn his body and secure the catch. The CB from the Trojans didn’t even know what hit him. BW was far from perfect, but I don’t think you can make the argument that EQ did him many favors, either.
Some receivers can make the QB look good. Some QB’s can make the receivers look good. It’s all about, timing, execution, chemistry. ESB will be just another journeyman. He doesn’t catch with authority. He has injury background going back to high school. No All- Pro status here. Glad he is leaving the program. We don’t need hit and miss players. Give me a consistent guy any day.
Greg, While I agree that he was hit or miss and his loss isn’t going to make or break us in ’18, I don’t know if I would take it as far as I’m “glad” he left.
We are now down our two most productive pass catchers from the past two seasons: ESB and Kevin Stepherson. Without those guys, we are left pretty unproven at the position. While there is a lot of talent at WR, you said it yourself: It’s a position group that takes reps, timing and chemistry in order to really thrive, and now we just hit the reset button this offseason.
ESB was a great talent who flashed at times, and didn’t reach his full potential. That doesn’t mean I’m glad he’s gone.
Alize Mack is a physical freak. He hasn’t panned out yet, but I am still ecstatic to see what he can do next fall with another off-season under his belt. I would have had the same attitude with ESB if he returned.
Baloney he never made the 50/50 catch and never ran through his routes. If he does succeed it will be because he improved these parts of his game.