Colts Claim Second-Year Running Back Andre Brown Off Waivers

Andre Brown returning a kick
during preseason in 2009.
(Nick Laham | Getty Images)

Mike Chappell of the Indy Star is reporting that the Colts have signed second-year running back Andre Brown off of waivers from the Denver Broncos.  Brown entered the league as a fourth round draft pick in 2009 (New York Giants), and received attention from a lot of Colts fans who considered him a solid option as a bruising change-of-pace to Joseph Addai.  Unfortunately, his rookie season ended when he tore his Achilles tendon, and that he has not been able to stick in a Broncos backfield that has struggled to get anything going this season is not a shining endorsement.

Still, as he entered the 2009 draft I compiled a full scouting report on Brown, comparing him to fellow 2009 rookie Rashad Jennings who is now the primary backup to Maurice Jones-Drew for the division rival Jacksonville Jaguars.  To this point, who will be released to make room for Brown is unknown.  His signing is not good news for Joseph Addai’s injury. Read more about Andre Brown after the break.

*NOTE – Brown does have some NFL return experience, which makes it possible that his signing has less to do with Addai and more to do with Colts returner Kenny Moore.

Brown stands at 6-foot tall and 224 pounds, which makes him 1-inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than any of the other Colts running backs.  Prior to the 2009 draft, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds.  In his senior season at N.C. State, Brown rushed for 767 yards on 175 carries (4.4 yards per carry) and 7 touchdowns.  He added 29 receptions for 309 yards (10.7 yards per catch) and 2 touchdowns.

Brown’s total offensive production make him look an awful lot like the kind of running back the Indianapolis Colts would have targeted in the 2009 draft had Donald Brown not dropped to them in the first round.  He can run with the ball, has speed and power, and has the hands and experience catching passes out of the backfield that the Colts require from their backs.

The final portion of Brown’s game that “sells” the idea that he could be coming to the team as a potential short- or long-term replacement for Addai is that he is notably a solid blocker, and physical enough to take on pass rushers.  Dave-Te’ Thomas of CBS Sports had this to say about Brown’s blocking abilities:

A willing blocker who is an efficient blitz pick-up blocker. He will make an effort, will cut block in pass protection and has power to block, but fails to generate good hip snap or mirror to get out on the edge in pass protection. Gets his hands up quick enough to jolt working in-line and is best served blocking in the backfield than in the second level (not good at angling).

All of this sounds too good to be true.  Still, there is a reason that although some (including me) thought Brown could go as early as the second round and most likely not fall past the third round, he lasted to the fourth round of the 2009 draft.  This is not some kind of indictment of his potential, as Colts receiver Austin Collie is a former fourth round draft pick, but a lot of teams saw enough of a reason to pass on him three or more times.

When you add that to the fact that the Giants chose to release him instead of retain him after his Achilles injury, that he could not stay on a Broncos squad with an anemic run game so far this year, and a history of getting dinged up in college, it all starts to make sense.  Still, Dave-Te’ Thomas compares Brown to Fred Taylor, which is an honorable comparison and at least suggests some potential to do something with the right team.

FRED TAYLOR, New England — Brown will never be the high-yardage, productive runner Taylor was in his heydays, but both show a good combination of power and quickness as an inside runner. Like Taylor, he is a bit of a medical risk. Fortunately, he has a lot of experience in a “running back by committee” set-up, as he has a few holes in his game to ever be considered a franchise back. He would be a nice replacement for Derrick Ward with the Giants.

It is possible that Brown is only a temporary member of the Colts squad.  It is possible he is only here to take over for Kenny Moore as the Colts primary returner.  It is also possible he could play a role in the offense for the rest of the season if starting running back Joseph Addai has a long-term injury.  It would be best for the Colts if it is only the former.