Hey fellas, I'm new around here and a lifelong Cleveland Browns fan but I thought I'd stop by and give you guys some of my thoughts on one of your new QBs, Levi Brown out of Troy. I went to Troy while Brown was still there and followed him pretty much his entire career as I'm a pretty die-hard Trojans fan. That being said, I'll try and stay away from any homerism. A lot of folks seem to be dismissing Brown as a viable QB option, but I implore you to at least reconsider. I liked him enough as a QB that I was hoping he'd fall to the Browns, and as much as I like Troy and their players, I like my Browns even more, so let that say something to you.
To start, I hear a lot of people talking about the offense that Levi came out of. I get the impression that most of the exposure that folks have gotten to Levi as far as film goes is the video posted earlier from an opening drive in Baton Rouge, 2008. To that point, there are two things to keep in mind:
1) Levi Brown played under center in a more pro-style offense for two years at the University of Richmond before transferring to Troy. Here is what his profile at the Troy athletic site says to that end:
Played football for University of Richmond through 2005 -2006 under Coach Dave Clawson ... In 2006, saw action in six games, one as a starter ... Against Villanova, he completed 24-of-36 passes for 332 yards and two touchdowns ... For the season, he completed 54-of-90 pass attempts for 618 yards and five touchdowns ... He was intercepted four times ... Helped lead team to 2005 Atlantic 10 championship, playing in five games, two as the starter ... Completed 12-of-42 passes for the season for 66 yards ... Was intercepted three times.
So as we can see, Levi has some experience in a more traditional offense against a quality level of competition, considering the fact that he was in only his first few years of college experience. Like I said in another thread, Richmond isn't exactly going up against SEC defenses, but as far as D1-AA goes, the Spiders are near the top of the heap. I do believe that there IS something to take from this.
2) The Troy offense was somewhat gimmicky his junior season, still utilizing the no huddle offense that was put to great use in the Tony Franklin era of Troy football where the players would rush to the line, then look back to the sideline where a series of colors and numbers would indicate the play after the defense had set up. However, in his senior season, the team got away from this. Two things happened that are of note: 1) While Troy didn't go on to use it very often if ever in the regular season, Neil Brown did develop short yardage packages with Levi under center. 2) The team started to transition to less and less of the tricksy no-huddle and more towards traditional play calling.
So we've established some HOPE (and make no mistake, hope is all I'm looking to give you, I dont claim Levi to be a messiah), that Levi will be able to slide successfully into a professional offense considering the wide open spread system he gained fame for in college at Troy. Speaking of Troy, let me give you some historical background on his career there.
Levi first sent Troy a tape when he was looking to transfer closer to his home in Mt Joliet, Tennessee. He actually wanted to stimulate interest from Middle Tennessee State, and hoped that MTSU would be motivated to snatch him up in order to prevent him from falling to the sworn Sun Belt rival Trojans. But Troy got the tape and snatch him up they did. At the time, the QB was Omar Haugabook, who is still legendary on Troy's campus (half of the students think he was drafted in the first round, in reality he plays indoor football in Louisiana). Omar was a fiery, competitive, mobile QB who was prone to INTs but kept Troy close in games against Georgia, Florida, Florida State and even led the team to a blow out of Oklahoma State in southeast Alabama in 07. Neil Brown liked the mobility aspect, and, even with Levi on the roster, N Brown decided to start former Purdue commit Jamie Hampton, who was a significantly worse passer but possessed some mobility Levi lacked. Brown was buried to the bottom of the depth chart, despite IMO having the best spring of the entire QB roster, and winning the hearts of several players.
After losing to Ohio State in a close game that was in my opinion decided by two Jamie Hampton turnovers, Troy looked to be content to simply win the Sun Belt, and in a game vs FAU in Boca, Hampton went down with a leg injury. Another QB named Tanner Jones came in for mop up duty in the Troy victory. Levi however won the starting job for the next game through the course of the week, and went on to win Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year honors in the weeks remaining. In his first game as a Trojan, Levi looked impressive, but didn't really break out until his second game vs North Texas where he complete 40 of 50 passes for 391 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 0 sacks. At that point, I was saying "I told ya so." From there, Levi continued to post great numbers, only throwing 3 INTs through the remainder of the season against 15 TDs, including a stellar game vs LSU, which I'm still to pissed to really want to talk about. It was in the bowl game against SMU when one announcer remarked that Levi was "the most accurate passer in college football." And in that game, I'd believe it.
Heading in to the 2009 season, Brown was named to the Manning Award Watchlist and expectations were high. Troy got a lot of hype and love from the press, which may or may not have contributed to our downfall. Troy opened up with a loss to Bowling Green, a game we should have won handily, but our defense didn't show up, our run game was pathetic and Levi gave up 2 INTs. The next game wasn't any easier, taking a 4 hour trip south to Florida to take on the Gators in the rain. Memories of a heroic performance against the Gators in 07 by the Trojans were quickly erased as Levi completed just 8 of 24 passes for a laughable 66 yards with a INT thrown in to boot. It is important to note however that the INT was largely the fault of WR Josh Jarboe, the recruit from Oklahoma who transferred after a YouTube video about skeeting and AK-47s left him out of Stoop's favor in Norman.
From there, things began to turn around. Brown had his first of 3 +400 yd games against UAB. Brown left many games early in which he was paced to break the 500 yard marker. Also interesting is that, excluding the first two games (still leaving in games vs quality teams such as Arkansas and CMU), Brown through 22 TDs to just 6 INTs.
As far as skills/talents/etc go...
Brown has great size at 6'4", 219 lbs. He's got an athletic build and great arm strength. I asked another Troy QB what he thought of Levi before he became the starter and his first response was, "He can throw the piss outta the ball." And he really can. As many of you know, he's got a great spiral, and while many have critiqued his release, I have to point out that the ball has zip and accuracy, and his deep passes turn nicely with minimal fluttering. His only problem is he sometime tends to float the ball on deep passes, but if anything he overthrows.
Another common criticism of Levi was that he was TOO careful with the ball. Levi was unafraid of getting outside the pocket and, finding no one open, throwing it out of bounds. He did this as much or more than any QB I have seen in the last year.
Brown is a solid passer in short range on the run, showing good form in squaring up his shoulders, getting power from the hips and leading his intended receiver with accuracy.
He is often cited as struggling with passes to the flats, and there is definitely some merit to that, however I believe it is overstated as the RBs at Troy during his tenure, mostly Maurice Greer (a UDFA with NE), DuJuan Harris, and Shawn Southward, lacked route running, timing and hands. This is certainly an area though in which Brown could use some work.
As far as intangibles, I certainly wouldn't worry about finding Brown doped up with a dead hooker and some apes stolen from a zoo in the Eastern bloc. Brown has a passion for Africa, and I'd be surprised if a sizable portion of his first check didn't go to Invisible Children or some similar organization. He seemed to lack a little bit of passion for football his junior year, but his zeal picked up and he turned into a confident field general in his senior campaign. The only thing that ever bothered me about Levi was his post-game comments after the UF loss, in which he seemed to not really care, as if he never expected to win. Personally, I dont care who your playing, I expect you to feel like you can beat anybody once. But that's just me.
Anyways, I'm sure theres some stuff I missed and I'm open for questions.