In 2013 and most of 2014, Pharaoh Brown was the Pac-12's best tight end. He was a huge contributor to Oregon QB Marcus Mariota winning the Heisman Trophy and in Oregon's run to the national title game. But in November of 2014, Brown's career took a sudden turn for the worse.
In a game against Utah, Brown stepped on a teammate's foot near the goal line. He tore two ligaments in his knee, and the damage caused a stretched artery. The artery restricted blood flow to the rest of Brown's leg, and doctors feared they would have to amputate. A late-night emergency surgery was performed, and Brown's leg was saved.
Brown sat out the entire 2015 season, but he wasn't done with football. He came back in 2016 for the Ducks and stepped right back in as the starting tight end. He caught 33 passes for 426 yards and five touchdowns- numbers well in line with what one might expect of a healthy Brown. His return to football and being signed by an NFL team, given the nature and severity of his injury, is nothing short of miraculous.
Weight: 255 lbs
Hands: 10 3/8"
Bench: 24 reps
Pharaoh Brown's biggest strength is, well, his strength. The 24 reps of the bench press was the top mark at the 2017 Combine for tight ends, and Brown is extremely difficult to bring down in the open field. His ability to separate in the short field is good, and he's an excellent red zone target. Brown is a physical specimen with a rare combination of speed, size and power. He is much bigger than any defender who might cover him. I don't see any 6'6" middle linebackers or safeties around the league. Like Obi Melifonwu, he's so big with such long strides that he doesn't look as fast as he actually is. His Combine performance shows that he is still extremely explosive even after his injury.
Brown has work to do as a blocker. The Raiders like having their tight ends as extra linemen, but that's not really what the Ducks do in their zone scheme. Brown was almost always out on a route in the passing game because he was always a mismatch, but on running plays he would show flashes of ability. He will absolutely have to improve in this area on a team like the Raiders which employs a smash-mouth power run scheme.
Brown has a pretty high drop rate and he has to expand his route tree. What he was expected to do at Oregon and by the Raiders will be very different.
What he brings to the Raiders:
Nobody can question Brown's love for the game. A man less passionate about football would never have come back from his injury, much less spent a year and a half rehabbing from it. Some scouts were concerned about his character, but I am not.
Brown may need a year on the practice squad to get acclimated to the pro game. His injury was so catastrophic that he may need time to work his way back to the form he needs to be at. But there's a lot to work with here. Brown compares well to Jared Cook and he's a guy who can develop into a solid starter and a serious weapon in two-TE sets. He's probably better than Mychal Rivera was and he is absolutely a quarterback's best friend. Derek Carr hasn't historically been very good in the red zone, but Brown is. He can definitely help the team improve close to the goal line.
If Brown were to reach his full potential and come all the way back from his injury, I see him as a player akin to Antonio Gates. If Clive Walford doesn't develop into what he can become, Brown could get that opportunity.