Brown has been a playmaker for the Tar Heels since his freshman season and had 2,306 career receiving yards to go with 21 touchdowns. He wrapped up his time with North Carolina by leading the ACC with 1,099 yards in 2020.
Here are five things to know about one of the newest additions to Washington's receiver corps:
1. He was an all-around athlete in high school.
Brown has been brimming with athleticism since he was 5 years old -- he told NBC Sports’ Chris Simms on an episode of Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast that was when he first started playing running track -- so it is not surprising he was an all-around offensive weapon for West Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Brown had 1,630 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns combined in his junior and senior campaigns. That was enough for ESPN to consider him a four-star recruit and the No. 32 receiver in the country. But Brown also had other dimensions to his skillset, including 25 tackles and five interceptions as a defensive back during his junior season and five rushing touchdowns during his senior year.
He was so versatile that Brown told Simms that he did not consider himself "locked in" as a receiver until he signed an offer from North Carolina. He actually wanted to play defense, but when he realized the position offered the opportunity for him to get on the field early, he worked with his high school receivers coach, Trey Long, to maximize his talents as a wideout.
It took some time -- Brown only caught 17 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown during his freshman season -- but eventually he became one of the Tar Heels' most important offensive players. He became the first player in program history to record two 1,000-yard seasons and tied for second with 21 career receiving touchdowns. His 1,099 yards in 2020 led the ACC and ranked sixth nationally.
Brown is hardly the first player on Washington's offense to have a background in multiple positions. 2020 third-round pick Antonio Gibson used his skills as a receiver and running back to great effect during his rookie season, and Brown wants to do the same.
"For me, it's to be effective in the run and the pass game," Brown said. "Just me coming in ready to compete and be competitive in both the pass and run game is something I expect to expand on."
2. He doesn't drop contested passes.
There is a lot to like about Brown's skillset, from his acceleration to the way he tracks the ball in midair, but the trait that stood out the most to head coach Ron Rivera was how battled for receptions. Brown's knack for coming down with the ball is elite, as he never dropped a contested target in his career at North Carolina, according to Pro Football Focus.
"He's a guy who seems to come down with the tough catch," Rivera said. "A couple of concentration drops on some deep balls, but man, when he competed for it, he went out and got it."
Anyone who continues to doubt Brown's ability should turn on the tape, and they will see him consistently winning matchups against defensive backs. Over the past two seasons, PFF ranked Brown as tied for second in the 2021 draft class with 21 contested catches -- only three behind Florida's Kyle Pitts. One of the best came against Wake Forest, when it looked like the defensive back was going to grab an interception before Brown snatched the ball from his grasp.
In fact, Brown's determination reminds Rivera of another receiver on Washington's roster: third-year pro and captain Terry McLaurin. McLaurin was the best among wide receivers in terms of contested-catch rate (68.4%) in 2019. That level of consistency creates confidence, and having a similar reputation could help Brown see the field more during his rookie season.
3. He was one of the best deep threats in college football…
It is often considered cliché to call someone a "home run hitter," but that is exactly what Brown was for the Tar Heels.
Brown, who had six 100-plus receiving yard games in his career, was the first player to average 20 yards per catch in consecutive seasons since 2000. Since 2019, Brown has ranked first in yardage on "go-routes" (606) and tied for first in receptions (15) and touchdowns (eight), according to PFF. His 99.9 yards per game average was second in the ACC, and NFL.com's Lance Zierlein believes his build-up speed "surprises cornerbacks who are tardy to open and run with him."
"Brown is a little thin, but has good length and excellent ball-tracking talent with the ability to follow the flight over his shoulder and bring it in for the score," Zierlein wrote in Brown’s evaluation. "He's a willing combatant when his quarterback allows him jump-ball opportunities."
Brown told Simms people can turn on any game to see what he can do, but he recommends watching North Carolina's 2020 matchup against Virginia during which he had 11 receptions for 240 yards and three touchdowns. It only took Brown 77 seconds to find the end zone on a 55-yard score, and from then on his night was filled with finding holes in the Cavaliers' defense.
"That's who I am," Brown said. "I can pretty much do that...playing against anybody."
And if that is not enough, take a look at what he did to Virginia in 2019, when he put up similar numbers with six receptions for 202 yards and three scores. In that two-year span, Brown averaged 26 yards per catch against the Tar Heels' ACC rival.
"He was telling everybody before the game that he was going to have 300 yards," then junior running back Michael Carter said after the 2019 game. "We were like, 'Ha, yeah, alright,' not like he wasn't going to do it, but it was like, 'Alright, we can't wait to see it,' type deal. ...So, a dude like that is special."
4. ...but he wants to be known as a complete player.
There were a couple of certainties about Brown when he was suiting up for the Tar Heels: he was going to catch deep balls, and they were going to be on the left side of the field.
Brown pointed out to Simms that it was a product of how North Carolina ran its offense. The Tar Heels ran an up-tempo scheme, and that limited where he lined up on the field. In the NFL, he wants to show he can be more than just a downfield threat.
"I've had limited routes, so I haven't run many digs, many slants, many curls, haven't been able to move around in the slot, run the crossing routes," Brown said after he was drafted. "For me, I've been working on them for the longest. I understand you have to be more than one dimensional to be successful and I've been working on that and being able to move around makes me a complete receiver."
For the past few months, Brown said he has been working on his intermediate routes like curls and digs. He described playing on the left side as "muscle memory," so he purposefully works out on the right side of the field.
"I want to show that I can move around and not be on one side," said Brown, who added that he feels comfortable playing every position on the field.
Brown said he can't argue with people who bring up his limited routes in college; after all, that is what shows up on film. All he asks for is an opportunity to show he knows how to run a full route tree.
"I work on different routes continuously, so I'm not just a deep threat," Brown said. "I can do it all."
5. He adds more speed to Washington's wide receiver corps.
Don't let the fact that Brown is one of the slowest receivers on Washington's roster fool you; running a 4.44 40-yard dash is still faster than many players in the NFL. It's part of what made Brown such a dynamic weapon in college, particularly when it came to working against press coverage.
"I know it's a win for me when it's a press corner," Brown told Simms. "I always know it's a win, because it starts at the line [of scrimmage]. I feel very confident in what I have with my ability."
It's too early to say whether Washington will have one of the best groups of skill players in the league, but it certainly has one of the fastest. McLaurin, Gibson and Curtis Samuel all have 4.3 40 times. With the way offensive coordinator Scott Turner likes to draw up plays that highlight his players' skills, adding Brown could help open up Washington's playbook even more.
And even though it has only been about a week since Brown was drafted, he already has immense expectations for what the offense can accomplish.
"I think it can make us very electric," Brown said. "I think you can compare it to the Chiefs with Tyreek Hill, all their speed and all of their guys, and compete with those guys and honestly be better."