Defensive tackle, Auburn Tigers
40 time: 5.16
Brown is a case of an elite recruit — No. 9 nationally in the 2016 class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings — looking the part and living up to billing. He played in every game as a true freshman before becoming a starter as a sophomore, when he made 56 tackles. He posted 48 tackles (10.5 for loss) and 4.5 sacks as a junior and could have jumped to the NFL. He opted to return, showing more power and polish, earning unanimous All-America honors. He finished his career with 170 tackles (33.5 for loss) and 13 sacks, five forced fumbles and eight pass breakups.
After passing on the Senior Bowl, Brown was surprisingly poor at the NFL Scouting Combine, finishing in the bottom seven among defensive linemen in the 40-yard dash (5.16), vertical (27 inches) and broad (108 inches) jumps and short shuttle (4.79) while finishing dead last in the 3-cone drill (8.22).
Brown is bigger, stronger and more athletic than most of his opponents. Boasts an intimidating frame with broad shoulders, long arms and an evenly distributed musculature. Difficult to move off his spot, overpowering opponents with his raw strength and using good pad level to maintain his leverage. Can simply overwhelm one-on-one blockers with his bull rush, which he showed on tape against national champion LSU. Terrific initial quickness for a man of his size. Quick enough to slip through gaps when not covered and isn’t reliant on his burst, demonstrating a sudden over-arm swim move to complement his athleticism. Uses his length and strength to lasso ball-carriers seemingly out of his reach, at times ripping them down with one arm while still occupied by a blocker. Uses his length to disrupt the vision of quarterbacks, with a track record of tipping passes at the line of scrimmage. Exceptional character on and off the field. Returned for his senior season despite a first-round projection. Member of the SEC Leadership Council and SEC Community Service Team. Finalist for the 2018 Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year. President of Auburn’s Student Athlete Advisory Council.
It’s picking nits, but Brown can be a bit of a one-shot per play defender, exploding through the line in impressive fashion but failing to redirect quickly enough to make the play. Perhaps due to being surrounded by so many other talented players, he did not register the numbers his talent suggests. Testing numbers create questions about athleticism and whether he can threaten as a pass rusher once facing stronger opposition.
Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles — It’s a scary thought, but Brown is further along in his development than Cox was when the five-time Pro Bowler was selected 12th overall out of Mississippi State in 2012. A physical mismatch and potential centerpiece of a defensive line, Brown is arguably the elite senior defensive prospect in the country.
Projection: First Round