Amon-Ra St. Brown
WR | USC Trojans | 6-1 | 195 lbs.
Over the last three NFL seasons, wide receivers who predominantly lined up on the outside have run five particular routes for about 75% of total routes. Those five routes are Gos, Hitches, Outs, Slants, and Crossers. For WRs playing from the slot, these five routes are also featured, at slightly altered percentages, for a nearly identical combined total. The final 25% will be distributed among Ins, Posts, Corners, some Screens, and the rest on exotic combo routes when split wide. For slot WRs, the majority of that 25% will go toward Screens and shallow work in the flat. Whenever I make references to “NFL routes” in these Dyno rookie profiles, those are the guidelines I am following.
Amon-Ra St. Brown was born to Miriam Steyer and John Brown on October 24, 1999. His parents met at a 1987 fitness trade show in Cologne, Germany. Miriam was born in Germany, pursuing her career as a physical therapist. After his own high school football career failed to take off, John shifted to bodybuilding. He collected a pair of Mr. Universe titles in 1981 and 1982, and a trio of Mr. World titles in 1981, 1983, and 1984 as one the biggest stars in his industry. John had displayed a self-motivation rarely seen in his teenage years. Since his resources were extremely limited in the early stages of his career, he would fabricate his own weights out of wood and nails! He didn’t simply strive to defeat his opponents, he was determined to “annihilate” them. John would compete in so many events across Germany that he eventually became fluent in the language.
Equipped with the language comprehension and endless search for ultimate fitness, John and Miriam were destined to collide, and, ultimately, to have three sons together. Equanimeous St. Brown is already catching passes from Aaron Rodgers in the NFL, Osiris is a WR at Stanford, but Amon-Ra, the youngest, is equipped with truly exceptional talents that could allow him to reach the very top of the game. Their father instilled his personal motto to “outwork everybody” and, after his professional bodybuilding career ended, has devoted all of his time toward training his three talented sons.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to find that an individual named “John Brown” would reach off the beaten path while naming his children. Equanimeous is a play on the word equanimity, defined as evenness of mind, especially under stress. Both Osiris and Amon-Ra are the most widely depicted in hieroglyphics of the Egyptian deities. As for the “St.” in the St. Brown, John invented the surname from Steyer and Brown, envisioning that it would stand out on the back of a football jersey. Amon-Ra would, unsurprisingly, end up becoming fluent in German, but he would master another language after attending an elementary school in California entirely spoken in French. To test their progress in picking up the language, John and Miriam would send their three sons to a school in France. How did it turn out? Each finished at the top of their respective class academically. Impressive, to say the least.
St. Brown would attend Servite High School in Anaheim before transferring to California powerhouse Mater Dei prep in Santa Ana the following season. As a 15-year-old sophomore playing for the No. 17 nationally ranked school under longtime HC Bruce Rollinson, St. Brown collected 22 receptions, 373 yards, three TDs, and averaged 30.5 yards on kickoff returns. It would serve as the last season in which he would play second fiddle to his older brother, Osiris. With current Georgia QB JT Daniels under center, Amon-Ra would track down 60 balls, 1,229 yards, and 21 TDs during a junior season in which the Monarchs would only lose in the CIF Division 1 Championship game to another preparatory powerhouse, St. John Bosco.
Even after missing the first three games of his senior season with a hand injury, St. Brown would leave nothing to doubt over the remaining 12 games. In assembling a 72/1,320/20 season, Amon-Ra took his team to a semifinal victory over the same St. John Bosco, on to claim the California CIF Division 1 title, and the top-overall ranking in the country. St. Brown’s inbox was flooded with scholarship offers from a who's-who of football programs. Ranked as the WR3 in the nation from the 2018 recruiting class by ESPN, WR2 by 247Sports, and WR1 by Rivals, Amon-Ra would settle on the USC Trojans in Los Angeles.
Fun fact: Amon-Ra was so impressively athletic as a five-year-old that, during a summer trip to Europe, the German national soccer team inquired about him staying behind to compete in the sport. Lucky for us, he chose the American version of football.
Football scouts in his region even mentioned St. Brown in the same breath as Robert Woods and DeSean Jackson as the most talented WR prospects from the Los Angeles area. As a 17-year-old at the Nike Opening, St. Brown would be timed with a 4.67 40-yard dash, 4.20 short shuttle, and 38.2 inch vertical at 6-foot, 191 pounds. However, as evidenced countless times over previous seasons, these early 40-yard dash timings should only be used as an initial evaluation tool. Countless individuals that have dedicated themselves toward regimented training have greatly improved their 40 times after college.
With a mentor on the level of his father, as well as what I’ve seen on his film… I have zero doubts whatsoever that St. Brown has devoted himself to his training, will test out faster at his Pro Day, and also maintain his previous outstanding short shuttle and vertical jump results. A truly ironic “knock” on St. Brown within his high-school scouting evaluations was due to a lack of bulk. You’ll only have the opportunity to see a few examples within the highlight reels I’ll examine — of which I will do my best to point out — but make sure you do yourself a favor in viewing some of the full-game footage for yourself to see just how functionally strong St. Brown plays at only 195 pounds.
As enjoyable as it would be to dig into his Mater Dei footage, we have a plethora of USC games from which to evaluate St. Brown. We obviously want to begin with his Age 18 season with the Trojans as a true freshman when he generated 61 receptions, 760 yards, and three TDs. During his first season with USC, the offense was coordinated by Tee Martin before Graham Harrell took over in 2019. Unfortunately, I would need to reference several video clips in order to show you everything I feel is significant from his impressive 2018. Jumbling together video clips into the categories I feel is necessary to offer evaluation reliability is just too confusing. We’ll just have to settle for this rare, grainy, and brief collection of clips from that season.
At the 0:05 mark in the video, St. Brown is in the slot on the right hash at UCLA in Week 12. The Bruins are defending in man where CB Quentin Lake attempts to benefit from a nine-yard cushion. Former Mater Dei teammate JT Daniels comfortably assessed the seven-man rush before tossing a dime to St. Brown on the skinny post. At 0:14, facing UNLV in his very first college game, Amon-Ra is fed on another skinny post to the house. This time we see the Rebels in a Cover 3 “bust” where the single-high safety inexcusably abandons his teammate at left CB. This clip fortifies the unreliability in results from Power Five teams vs. Group of Five or FCS matchups.
Make sure you look at the 0:25 mark showing us Week 11 versus California in a Cover 4 zone shell. On a simple comeback, St. Brown’s elite footwork snaps Cal CB Elijah Hicks off at the ankles. Key in on the inside-out release at the line across from Washington State CB Marcus Strong in man coverage at 0:34. Strong wants to get his hands on St. Brown, but the footwork we see renders that impossible. The soft hands on the over-the-shoulder collection is silky smooth. The Out at 0:41 may not set the world on fire, but we want to see these kids execute on NFL routes, which he does here, while also forcing a whiff on the tackle attempt by P.J. Locke. When defenses drop multiple defenders deep, such as the Cover 3 shown at 0:57, diagnosing zone holes is vital. St. Brown properly cuts this Out between the Sam LB and the slot CB. Plays exactly as we see here are going to pay off big at the next level.
Another game, another example highlighting the top skinny post in this WR class at 0:50. Perhaps the angle is slightly deeper than the standard definition to refer to it as a skinny post, but it still shines a spotlight on St. Brown punishing the “soft” zone for leaving the middle of the field open. Here he is seen abusing Texas safety Brandon Jones. Had Daniels not have had to brace for the impending hit, this underthrown ball could’ve been the 4th TD of Amon-Ra’s true freshman season.
For his true sophomore highlights, we’ll use this video. With new OC Graham Harrell in tow and QB Kedon Slovis slinging the rock, the new look Trojans are opposed by Stanford in Week 2. St. Brown shows us in the opening clip that the 4.67 40 time from two years prior is a distant memory as he blazes past CB Obi Eboh, who himself was timed at 4.57. We also see another of St. Brown’s most appealing traits: the mid-air adjustment. This is a skill we see over-and-over during his career. And, for example, we see it on consecutive plays at 1:22 and 1:30.
Why not give us another reason to circle St. Brown as having the best skinny post in the class (0:29)? If you pause the video precisely at the 0:34 mark, you’ll see three helpless Arizona State DBs in a Cover 6 collision. Did somebody say separation? Straight-line speed? My goodness. The highlight at 0:42 is also one of my favorites. Notre Dame, Cover 4, with two deep safeties and the middle of the field open. It’s another skinny post down the seam, and of the one-handed variety. Irish safeties Alohi Gilman and Kyle Hamilton stand no chance. This stuff is textbook for Amon-Ra at this point. You can see Gilman attempt to muscle St. Brown off his route on the view at exactly 0:54. St. Brown actually uses the push to accelerate with a stiff arm of his own. Whereas some scouts questioned St. Brown’s physicality out of HS, I refer to him as the strongest WR in the class.
The assembling of this video was obviously done with the type of route and area of the field in mind. We see another of the same down the seam at 0:58 facing Iowa. (Coincidentally, we also see some serious reasoning behind Slovis’ star shining so bright after his true freshman season.) The end zone view at 1:14 really provides an awesome look of St. Brown doing what he does best. When he attacks the middle of the field here, he doesn’t even need that much vertical separation. Watch the wiggle at the top of his route, as the lightning-fast cut to the inside provides enough horizontal space for play success. We don’t have the luxury of using this clip to read the safeties for our shell diagnosis at 1:22, but it appears to be a Cover 4 from California. The results are identical, even on the underthrown ball.
We’ve already seen many examples of St. Brown stationary out wide, and while in the slot. At the 1:49 mark, you get to see him in motion on a Jet Sweep. Amon-Ra’s coordination to execute in motion will allow him to take on many diverse roles in the NFL. We see another at 2:53 with St. Brown running circles around UCLA defenders. What you are seeing are NFL moves. With Iowa in a Cover 1 at 2:13, St. Brown shows off his burst for late separation. If you didn’t already notice, Amon-Ra rarely goes down on first contact. What appears to be a coverage bust of the Cover 6 at 2:45, depending on who you ask, is, in my opinion, actually St. Brown exploiting his team’s diverging routes to uncover the zone hole.
Let’s finish up his second-season footage with a clip of St. Brown finding the zone hole and sitting (3:18), continuing to work for his QB on the scramble drill (3:26), dicing up a Cover 4 LB on a dig (3:36), and taking what the defense offers underneath Stanford’s soft zone coverage (3:45 and 3:54). These plays stand out as different from the previous groupings. They also serve to break St. Brown from attempts to mold him within a defined profile. Allow me to save you the trouble, St. Brown is going to be a problem for NFL defenses.
Now let’s turn our attention toward his six games played during the COVID-19 shortened season. After running the great majority of his routes from the slot the previous two seasons, St. Brown has earned his way up in the WR room to prove his worth out wide during his final season. The weather played a significant role in the Arizona State game, so we’ll move ahead in the video, but I do want to highlight the second play at 0:15. The block St. Brown plants on CB D.J. Taylor is of the nasty variety. At 0:31 facing Arizona, St. Brown reminds us that his skinny post work remains.
We can see St. Brown punishing his Washington State man coverage defender at 1:07 on the slant route he’ll be expected to run around a tenth of the time as a rookie. St. Brown would submit a career day facing the Cougars in Week 14. Next, he runs down the seam from the slot for a TD at 1:22 with an acrobatic, mid-air adjustment. He scores his third TD of the game on another Jet Sweep at 1:33. To cap off the amazing performance, we get to see one of the compelling reasons why St. Brown should not be typecast solely as a slot. At least, not in goal-to-go situations. The end zone fade at 1:53 is truly a thing of beauty. And make sure you check out the guns St. Brown is now packing around when he flexes at the 2:10 mark.
The next victim on the list is UCLA on an Out at 2:12, another NFL route of significant importance. At the 2:19 mark, St. Brown rag-dolls the jam attempt by Jay Shaw with ease before collecting the TD slant. The camera work at 0:21 cuts off the clash between Amon-Ra and Rayshad Williams at the line. Needless to say, St. Brown tossed his opponent aside for another TD on an end zone fade, which served as the walkoff score.
I’ll get this out of the way early, I just can’t get the parallels between St. Brown and Hines Ward, another player whose parents met overseas, out of my head. St. Brown has been able to pack on significant muscle during his three seasons at USC while only adding four pounds to his frame. His body fat percentage must be at an incredible low. But muscle alone didn’t make Ward into the player we all remember. He was one of the most dangerous WRs in recent NFL history when set in motion.
Ward’s draft profile was also overlooked in 1998 after it was discovered that his left ACL was permanently lost after breaking his kneecap in the fourth grade. He would fall to the Steelers in the third round. St. Brown isn’t missing an ACL, he is simply being undervalued, and especially in fantasy. Despite competing for touches with truly stacked WR groups, St. Brown still managed to average 17 FPG during his 31 career games.
The Bottom Line
Amon-Ra St. Brown is a problem. He packs in the best footwork, mid-air adjustments, functional strength, and the sharpest routes in this WR class. He provided us with evidence of executing all five of the most important NFL routes. St. Brown generated production from the slot, at stationary X, and motioned from Z. He simply destroyed coverages leaving the middle of the field open (i.e., Cover 2, 4, and 6), and he gave us countless examples why he possesses the most dangerous skinny post in the class.
Do I seriously think St. Brown threatens any of Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, or DeVonta Smith to break into the top-three WR group? Landing spot will always have its say. We should also wait until we have everyone’s Pro Day athletic testing in hand before doing anything drastic. At this point, Chase is safe as my WR1 atop my overall rookie draft big board. Smith just submitted one of the finest seasons from a college WR in history, and I’m still not done evaluating Waddle. I will be keeping St. Brown locked in as my WR4 until further notice. I also have Kyle Pitts, Najee Harris, and Travis Etienne ahead of him in my non-Superflex ranks. But I am literally deadlocked trying to decide between St. Brown and Trey Sermon for the seventh spot. Onto the next profile.