The Redblacks must really like the potential of Dru Brown in their offense. After adding the quarterback in exchange for a 5th round pick, the Ottawa Redblacks have now inked him to a two year contract keeping him in Ottawa through the 2025 season.
General Manager had this to say to CFL.ca:”Dru is a productive quarterback who has demonstrated when previously given the opportunity to be an excellent decision maker who can lead a team on the field,” said GM Shawn Burke. “We believe he will fit in well in our quarterbacks room and we’re excited that he wants to take the next step in his career as a REDBLACK.”
What Makes Brown so Valuable?
A question that might have been asked by the uninitiated since this trade and extension occurred is “What makes Dru Brown so valuable for Ottawa?” Burke did his best to answer just that when he said (I’m paraphrasing) ‘Dru is a productive quarterback who has demonstrated he is an excellent decision maker.’
Since the 2018 season the Redblacks, have not had a single starting quarterback manage to throw more touchdowns than interceptions. This includes players like Dominique Davis, Caleb Evans, Jeremiah Masoli, Nick Arbuckle, Tyrie Adams, and Dustin Crum. Meanwhile, Brown entered the league in 2021, seeing his first start in 2022, he threw 2 interceptions against BC. Other than that one game, Brown hasn’t thrown another interception in the CFL regular season.
This trend follows him all the way to his college career. As a true freshman he attended San Mateo Community College where he started right away. Playing in 11 games he accounted for 27 touchdowns to just 8 interceptions. That 8 interceptions would end up a career high. After one season at San Mateo he transferred to Hawai’i where he started ahead of Cole McDonald in 2016-2017.
Two more seasons down, and in both years he never topped 8 interceptions, he left having accounted for 43 touchdowns to 15 interceptions. After two years in Hawai’i he decided to transfer to Oklahoma State which paved the way for McDonald to step in. Arriving at Oklahoma State he redshirted in 2018 behind Taylor Cornelius before seeing significant playing time in 2019. During the 2019 season he managed his most efficient season yet, accounting for 7 touchdowns to just 1 interception. He graduated having accounted for 78 touchdowns, (13 rushing)to 24 interceptions.
Height Held Brown Back from NFLl
Brown unfortunately didn’t play enough at Oklahoma State, and didn’t light the world on fire at Hawai’i. This coupled with being listed at 5’11 192 pounds didn’t help his case to be selected in 2020. Despite starting ahead of McDonald for two seasons he watched as Cole was selected in round 7 by the Titans as Brown slipped out of the draft entirely.
McDonald stands 6’4 220 pounds, 5 inches and nearly 30 pounds heavier than Brown. He also was invited to the combine where he ran a 4.58 40-yard dash one of the top numbers for any quarterback in the 2020 draft process. Brown ran a 4.72 40-yard dash but also managed a 1.59 10-yard split an impressive first step for a quarterback. This was actually slightly faster than McDonald, Brown also managed to match the vertical of the taller McDonald despite being at a 7 inch disadvantage between height and arm length. This displayed that Brown was the more explosive athlete even if he didn’t have the top end speed McDonald offered.
No Love for a Poorman’s Colt McCoy in the NFL
The closest NFL comparison to Dru Brown is none other than Colt McCoy. McCoy was a similar height/weight/speed product to Brown, albeit slightly less explosive, but had a much more productive college career to lean on headed into the draft which allowed him to get selected in round 3. This included an undefeated run as a senior at Texas.
Had Brown started his entire college career, been 6’2+, or run a bit faster 40, he might be in the NFL right now. Alas at 26 years old Ottawa might have their quarterback of the present and near future after inking Brown to a two year deal. Given all the information available I believe Brown will likely play out his career in the CFL where his mobility is more than enough to overcome his height.
How Does This Extension Affect Ottawa’s QB Position
Obviously, with the move to acquire the rights to Dru Brown we knew the Ottawa wanted to add a quarterback that could potentially start in the event of a Masoli injury. This extension, however on the surface, makes it appear, as if Brown might be starting, even if Masoli is healthy.
Masoli’s contract restructure sent a message that Ottawa was ready to move on. With a $100,000 bonus serving as a hard deadline to get the deal done, Masoli opted to reduce his salary by nearly 2/3’s according to 3Down’s Justin Dunk, with the ability to earn around $90,000 back with playing time incentives broken down into $5,000 per game checks allotted if Masoli plays over 51% of the snaps.
So naturally this means that if Masoli doesn’t come back looking like the 2018 version of himself the Redblacks have 90,000 reasons to start Dru Brown in 2024. If protecting the football is the deciding factor I put Brown’s chances of starting at about 75%. Masoli is a gunslinger, and with him has always come the potential of turnovers. Currently he stands at a career total of 79 touchdowns to 51 interceptions, below a 2 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio for the veteran. It will take a near MOP Level Performance in his return from two major injuries back-to-back for Masoli to earn the starting job ahead of Brown at this point.
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