Even in a high-octane defensive line class in 2019, Derrick Brown would have found himself mixed in with the best of them. The Auburn defensive tackle prospect posted 48 total tackles, 10.5 for loss, and 4.5 sacks in 2018 earning second team all-conference honors.
In a period of time in which hundreds of underclassmen forgo their final season(s) of collegiate eligibility to enter the NFL Draft, it does come as a surprise that Brown was not one of the names mentioned on the list of 103 this past draft.
With his return, Brown leads the way as the top defensive line prospect in the SEC entering the college football season.
Brown has the strength and power that NFL organizations covet with a high-end pick. Brown’s force at the point of attack provides instant overwhelming qualities to his matchup. Despite occasionally rising his pad level when contact is initiated, Brown keeps his hands square to maximize the potential to ride his matchup and put him on skates. He strikes quickly into the opponent’s numbers making it difficult for his matchup to regain control.
His 6-foot-5 length comes into play with above average extension to keep blockers off his chest. He has a knack for shooting high off the snap but the strategy of continually working his hands into the upper body of the blocker, somewhat neutralizes some off his poor leverage technique.
Brown is a disruptor. Plain and simple. Whether making splash plays in the run game or two-gapping his way through the line, Brown finds a multitude of ways to affect the outcome of a play. Though his splash plays are worthy of highlight reels, Brown embodies the description of space eater which doesn’t always equal play of the week instances.
Plays like these that don’t go in the stat book. Derrick Brown (5) takes away a couple interior gaps and forces QB to pull and take long distance to the boundary. If you want to complain that he’s on the ground here, then I can’t help you. #Auburn #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/0lnFt3yhSA— Christian Page (@_ChristianPage) May 30, 2019
The senior prospect has the intelligence and awareness to react to the flow of the play when he can’t physically disengage from his matchup. Brown proves his worth by consistently redirecting his opponent into the path of the play creating his own version of repositioning the line of scrimmage.
I'll just say good luck. pic.twitter.com/Oxyjmfsn3h— Christian Page (@_ChristianPage) May 31, 2019
With a wide and long frame, athleticism can be of question with the obvious concerns consisting of moving laterally and possessing next level body control. Brown does not have any glaring concerns in that department. Brown’s acceleration and ability to unlock his hips rank high among his class. Brown shows the consistent ability to explode out of his stance and convert power to speed at a high rate.
Brown is a promising prospect but not a perfect prospect. Brown’s power at the point of attack and attractive athleticism yearns for top 10 and maybe even top five potential. But his power and control is limited by poor pad level almost immediately occurring as the ball is snapped. This habitual trait needs to be corrected in order for Brown to carve up on his potential.
Channeling all levels of the prospect, Brown is equally impressive off the field as he is on. This past season, he was one of three finalists for the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award. The award presented annually to the Division I college football player who has demonstrated a record of leadership by exhibiting exceptional courage, integrity and sportsmanship both on and off the field. The award honors the type of exemplary character and commitment to community, family and teammates demonstrated by Jason Witten.
The nomination highlighted Brown’s educational and charitable efforts that he has encountered at Auburn University. Entering his last year on The Plains, Brown is a member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll and plays a role in the SEC Student-Athlete Leadership Council. With a selfless attitude, Brown’s volunteer work consists of mission work in the Dominican Republic and bonding with charitable organizations around the Auburn, Alabama, areas.
From a mentality standpoint when factoring elements on and off the field and then partnering that with his physical attributes, Brown will rest high on draft lists heading into the college football season.
And it’s all justified.