University of Washington

Many believe Huskies quarterback Jake Browning helped himself at NFL combine

UW’s Jake Browning at NFL combine on expectations, what he learned in Chris Petersen’s program

University of Washington quarterback Jake Browning at NFL combine on expectations, what he learned in Chris Petersen’s program.
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University of Washington quarterback Jake Browning at NFL combine on expectations, what he learned in Chris Petersen’s program.

Jake Browning wanted to show off a stronger throwing arm at the NFL combine.

The league noticed.

The Rose Bowl, national-semifinal and two-time Pac-12 champion quarterback at the University of Washington was a noticeably different Browning in Indianapolis this weekend than the one who rallied the Huskies to within five points of Ohio State before losing the Rose Bowl New Year’s Day.

Browning said Friday he wanted to “show them the ball pops off my hand.”

Saturday, it popped—as well or better than it did in four seasons leading UW’s offense.

Tacoma-based NFL draft guru Rob Rang was among the many here at the combine who noticed.

NFL teams did, too.

“From a pure accuracy perspective, Browning was as good as any passer on the field during Saturday’s first quarterback session,” Rang wrote for his “He threw the ball confidently and it came off his hand with as much velocity as at any point I’ve seen it during his four years as Washington’s starting quarterback.”

This improved arm strength is by design.

The arm-strength question is among those that made Browning a late-round prospect, if he gets drafted, entering this combine. There is the possibility he will go undrafted, then need to take a rookie free-agent route to get his NFL shot.

But what he showed this weekend could change that.

“A team looking for a quick distributor at quarterback will no doubt be intrigued by the smarts, accuracy and apparently improved arm strength from Browning,” Rang wrote.

Washington quarterback Jake Browning runs a drill during the NFL scouting combine Saturday in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings). Darron Cummings AP

Browning has spent the two months since the Rose Bowl in Orange County, Calif., working extensively with 3DQB, a biomechanics-training facility. He credits its “motion mechanics and performance experts” Adam Dedeaux, a former USC baseball player, plus ex-BYU quarterback John Beck and Taylor Kelly, a former quarterback for Arizona State, for creating more torque through his torso and thus more velocity on his throws.

“That’s something that I’ve been working on. Just working through the back of my shoulders,” Browning said. “The big thing is, as hard as you want to throw forward, you’ve got to be able to stop it in the back with some decelerator muscles.

“It’s opening my eyes to a lot of technique stuff that I thought I had figured out, but I realized there is a lot more stuff to learn with the guys I am working with.”

UW’s career leader in total offense, passing yards, touchdown passes, total touchdowns, completions and passing efficiency also ran the sixth-fastest time among quarterbacks at the combine in the 40-yard dash, 4.74 seconds.

Browning said he met informally with the Seahawks at the combine, with new offensive assistant Austin Davis, Seattle’s backup to Russell Wilson in 2017. The Seahawks again are in need of a backup to Wilson, with Brett Hundley set to become a free agent next week.

Browning was asked at the combine why he thinks he can succeed in the NFL.

“I feel like I am accurate. I move well in the pocket. Working on arm-strength stuff, definitely, and feel like I am seeing some results,” he said.

“And then as far as just how I am able to stick it, stay in something, being mentally engaged for a very long time. I have been able to play at a very high level for college football for four years, with an overall pretty successful college career. And, you know, that’s not something that every quarterback can say, that they’ve had to basically go through four seasons going through the same, monotonous stuff, four offseasons of the same stuff, and thriving in that environment.

“The NFL season is long. I’ve been training. It’s a marathon, and I’ve been training for the marathon. That’s where I kind of have my confidence in my ability to play in this league.”

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.