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Cowboys Seventh-Round Pick Noah Brown Has Tools To Be Late-Round Gem

The Dallas Cowboys may have found a late-round steal in the 2017 draft.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Oklahoma Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys headed into the 2017 NFL Draft with one main objective in mind: improve the defense. By spending six of their first seven selections on the defensive side of the ball, the coaching staff has to feel a lot better about the unit heading into the upcoming fall.

Taco Charlton was selected to get in the backfield and disrupt the quarterback. Chidobe Awuzie has the ability to play just about anywhere in the secondary. Jourdan Lewis and Marquez White were drafted to help reshape the defensive backfield in the Big D. Xavier Woods, somehow, fell to the Cowboys in the sixth-round and has shown signs of potentially becoming a late-round steal. And, Rod Marinelli’s reaction to the selection of Joey Ivie can do nothing but give confidence to the interior defensive lineman out of Florida.

While it was clear Dallas wanted to remake their defense, they did not forget about surrounding their young franchise quarterback with talent. The teams surprised many and added dynamic receiver and kick return specialist Ryan Switzer in the fourth round. Switzer is expected to get some snaps in the slot and compete for the starting punt return job. Dallas then selected Ohio State’s Noah Brown with the team’s second of three seventh-round selections.

Noah Brown is a 6’2”, 222 pound outside receiver that possesses the athleticism to go up and get the football. He was regarded as one of the most athletic playmakers in the 2014 high school recruiting class and his potential is vast.

Noah Brown’s career stats at Ohio State (courtesy of sports-reference.com)

Brown was recruited to Columbus by Urban Meyer in the 2014 recruiting cycle. A native of New Jersey, Brown was rated as a consensus four-star athlete in the Buckeyes’ signing class. Brown lined up in different spots on the football field during his high school career, but the Ohio State coaching staff decided he would be best out wide. As a freshman, he didn’t see much action. He appeared in two games, where he caught one pass for nine yards. Expected to see a larger role as a sophomore, Brown’s second collegiate season ended before it started as he suffered a leg injury during a fall camp practice.

Here is what CBS Sport’s Tom Fornelli reported back in 2015:

While Ohio State wouldn't go into the specifics of the injury, Ari Wasserman of Cleveland.com reported that wide receiver Noah Brown suffered "what appeared to be a major leg injury" during practice. Wasserman also reports that a source told him it could be a broken leg or a knee injury, and that a "pop was heard when he went down."

As Fornelli pointed out, the athletic receiver was expected to be a key contributor for the defending National Champions after a strong spring.

Brown had been one of the stars of Ohio State's spring practice, with Urban Meyer saying he had "solidified" his part in the rotation on offense. Brown saw limited time in 2014, though he did appear in 11 games.

Nonetheless, Brown rehabbed and returned in 2016. As a redshirt sophomore, Brown was finally able to show his playmaking ability on the football field. Appearing in 12 of the Buckeyes’ games, Noah Brown caught 32 passes for 407 yards. That’s 12.6 (!) yards per reception. Oh, and he added seven touchdowns last fall.

None more impressive than this absolutely amazing grab during a prime time game against Oklahoma last September:

Here’s another look:

Bleacher Report’s lead draft expert Matt Miller is very high on Brown, to say the least. Here is what Miller wrote after the Cowboys selected the Ohio State product:

Noah Brown may have the highest ceiling of any wide receiver in this class graded as a mid- to late-draft pick. He shows the ability to catch the ball in front of his body with soft hands. He runs good routes, running through contact at the stem of his routes without affecting his speed. He combines his ability to separate with his ability to high-point the ball to create big plays. He is comfortable catching the ball in traffic, and versus Oklahoma he even pinned the ball on the defender's back. He was a big-time red-zone threat, as seven of his 32 receptions on the year went for touchdowns, including four versus Oklahoma.

Brown is more than just that catch, though. He possesses the size, frame, and athleticism to be able to become a reliable outside receiver in the National Football League. In addition to his willingness to go up and high point the football, Brown has shown that he isn’t afraid to lay a key block. Here’s his draft profile, per NFL.com:

STRENGTHS

Big receiver who plays like it. Wide frame shields defenders and maintains a catch window. Willing and able to work through traffic and can stomach collisions to secure the catch. Strong hands pluck and secure low throws and balls that sail. Uses size and strength to bully cornerbacks at top of his route when working in the end zone. Physical, fall-forward runner after catch with an effective stiff-arm to stuff tacklers. Gives as good as he gets when facing physical press corners. Able to fight through route re-direction and maintain the timing of his route. Plays the game like a battering ram at times. Committed blocker who looks to cave-in his crack blocks. Able to sustain his block and spring a run for additional yardage.

Did I mention that he isn’t afraid to lay a key block? Here’s one example:

And another:

Even when knowing the ball isn’t coming his way, Brown makes sure to make an impact in any way that he can.

"I'm going to try to smash the safety on the crack block," he said. "I'm going to try to put the cornerback on the bench on a play when I'm not getting the ball."

If that isn’t a Jason Garrett player, I don’t know what is.

Between his ability to make big-time plays, his elite athleticism, and his willingness to make a block, Brown has a solid chance to battle for a roster spot. He is relatively raw due to his lack of experience on the college level, but Brown has all of the potential in the world. The Cowboys may have just found a steal in the last round of the 2017 draft.

Noah Brown is just scratching the surface.

*Note: gifs are courtesy of Fox Sports and Draft Breakdown. Stats are courtesy of sports-reference.com.