BBD Writer Carter Eckl
Good size, solid speed, excellent tackling are all qualities teams are looking for when they scout out a linebacker. Arthur Brown brings all that to the table and more. Brown was a preseason All-American and made first team All-Big-12 by the years end, living up to his preseason hype. On top of all those awards he finished the year with 91 tackles, a sack, and two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. This was enough to earn him Big-12 Defensive player of the year. All these awards are impressive but let’s take a look at what he truly brings to the table in terms of talent and skill.
Arthur Brown started his collegiate career at University of Miami but after two years transferred to Kansas State where he found his success. He stared out as a weak side linebacker at Miami but played his two seasons at Kansas State as a middle and strong side linebacker. Brown is one of those players that always seem to be in the right place at the right time. Both of his interceptions his senior season came off deflections which leads me to believe he fits nicely with a team that likes to play a lot of zone. He played in a 4-3 package that didn’t blitz very much at Kansas State but when they did blitz they made it count. He lacks the size to truly power through an offensive line so I think he fits best in a similar system to what he played in at Kansas State. Just because he can’t power through an offensive line doesn’t mean he can’t find a way to get to the quarterback. Brown has a ton of explosiveness that allows him to slip through smaller blockers such as Tight Ends, Full Backs, and the occasional running back. His lateral quickness allows him to make close quarter tackles even when he is being held. I see him as a good fit with the Bengals (who have an early 2nd round pick), Bills, or Vikings to name a few teams that might be interested in him. I like Brown’s ability to stay with every play which allows him to make tackles that other linebackers wouldn’t be able to.
The main focus of linebackers like Brown is to use their quickness to make tackles. That is exactly what he does. When Brown encounters a runner in the open field he hardly ever misses. His natural instinct keeps him balanced and extremely low. Pre-snap he is almost impossible to miss because his stance keeps him so low. Brown’s fundamental ability to stay low allows him to plant runners and stop them in their tracks. His capability to stay low keeps runners from falling forward, a trait that is seldom overlooked when it comes to defensive prospects. He has to be one of the most consistent tacklers on the draft board this year. His ability to read the run is remarkable and second to almost none. However, he occasionally gets caught over pursuing which can cause him to run past a tackle and take him out of a play.
His pass coverage isn’t exceptional but he is a consistent zone player which limits him to only covering the middle of the field. Brown always keeps his head forward allowing him to locate any receivers running in front of him; but this can cost him as he has a slight tendency to let players slip in behind him. His speed helps him gain make up time but these are usually plays that could have been prevented. He matches up well with running backs that dip out into the flat or tight ends coming across the middle. The one thing I notice about Brown from watching tape is he struggles against the read option and quicker quarterbacks. Since these types of quarterbacks are becoming the new age of football expect that to be an area you seem him getting a lot of work done. On the other hand, one of Brown’s biggest upsides is he consistent plays well. He has never had a major injury and rarely has a bad game. He is definitely an underrated linebacker with plenty of upside.
I think Brown could go as early as the first five picks into the second round. He has continued to improve and look for big things from him at the Senior Bowl as well as the Combine to keep building on his draft stock. The farthest I could see him falling is to a late 3rd round, and at worst, an early 4th round pick. I think his best comparison is to Daryl Washington of the Arizona Cardinals because he lacks ‘ideal’ size but brings solid fundamentals to the table. Arthur Brown’s natural ability to play makes him a solid pick anywhere in the draft but he does need to improve on his pass coverage and avoiding silly mistakes, like overrunning a play.