Marlon Brown: A rare offensive find historically for the Ravens

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens have hit pay-dirt with undrafted free agents in the past, but not usually on offense.

Plenty has been written about the Ravens front office under the leadership of general manager Ozzie Newsome. With two championships under his belt and a knack for discovering and developing late-round or undrafted rookie talent, Newsome has often been exempt of criticism for his personnel decisions in Baltimore.

Prior to this season, there were only two areas I could ever think to criticize Newsome on:

  • Aside from Priest Holmes, Newsome has failed to find undrafted free agent contributors on offense.
  • Aside from Torrey Smith, the Ravens have mostly struck out on developing a top-tier receiver.
Marlon Brown, the Ravens free agent rookie undrafted free agent and his performance thus far through Week 14 has me thinking differently.

Brown's impressive rookie campaign experienced its brightest moment last Sunday as he hauled in a 9-yard touchdown pass with four seconds remaining in one of the wildest finishes in NFL history. The touchdown was Brown's sixth this season, tying him with Lions wide receiver Joseph Furia for the touchdowns by a rookie.

On Wednesday, I asked quarterback Joe Flacco about his rapport and confidence level in Brown.

"It's what you have to do," Flacco said about targeting a guy an undrafted rookie during such a crucial part of the game. "Marlon is a great player. I'm not thinking back there, 'Can I trust this guy?' If I was thinking that though, if that was going through my head, I'd have all the confidence in the world.

"When you've been involved in some of the games he's been in, and when you handle it the way he's handled it, you can't really look at him as a rookie anymore."

Brown came to Baltimore after a visit with the Houston Texans, which ended without him receiving an offer from the team. Brown then came to Baltimore, a place he had never been to before, and only knew about from the hit HBO series, The Wire.

About a month ago, Brown was our guest on the Purple and Black Attack radio show on 105.7 The Fan. During the show, I brought up the team's misses on wideouts and despite having tremendous success defensively with undrafted rookies, the same couldn't be said on the offensive side of the ball.

"I didn't even know anything about that," Brown said. "I don't' really feel any pressure on me, I feel that I'm always going to do better, I'm always going to work hard and I'm always going to do my job. At the end of the day, I like playing football so I'm not going to mind getting better."

Brown is a sigh of relief, especially as the Ravens appeared to reach and miss year after year, most recently with Tommy Streeter, who the Ravens took in the sixth round of the 2012 draft. Streeter never caught a pass in a regular season game, was signed by the Buffalo Bills to their practice squad following training camp and was recently released.

Having only played in 11 games thus far, the jury is still out on Brown. However, given his performance in those 11 games, he looks to be something unique considering Newsome's history of finding cheap talent on the offensive side of the ball.


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