Summary: Like many players who have come out of North Carolina in recent years, Brown is an elite athlete who has tons of physical talent. His unique skill set allows him to do things athletically that other players can't do. Brown is capable of making game-changing plays because of pure natural abilities. He had huge games against Rutgers, North Carolina State, Wake Forest and Louisville in 2011. Brown flashed some Saturdays, but did not consistently dominate as much as he seems capable of.
Brown outproduced linebackers Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant in 2010. He had 72 tackles with three interceptions. He improved to 105 tackles with 13.5 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks, four passes broken up, three interceptions and three forced fumbles last year. Brown showed better instincts as a senior, but he still had plays where he seemed lost and reacted late. His speed made up for it at the collegiate level, but that won't work in the NFL.
North Carolina went to a 3-4 defense at times, and Brown was a good edge blitzer. He closes on the quarterback quickly and is able to dodge or run through blockers. Brown has the ability to be a good pass defender in zone or man coverage, but needs to refine his game and get coached up. He flashes as a run stopper, and defends the perimeter well while having the speed to get to the far side of the field. Brown will need to do a better job of taking on and shedding blocks in the NFL.
Brown would probably be best as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense as a pro. He could play in a 3-4 and move from inside and outside linebacker, but it may not be as of a good fit as a 4-3. Brown would be more effective if he can attack off the snap rather than having to think in a read-and-react scheme.
Occasionally, Brown will blast players and show some real physicality. Other times, he can seem disinterested. Brown has some maturity concerns. In 2011, he was suspended from playing defense against Georgia Tech, but allowed to play on special teams. If he lands with a good coach and some veteran leadership, he has the physical talent to be a Pro Bowl player.
Player Comparison: Thomas Howard. Like Brown, Howard has a special skill set. Howard was selected with an early pick in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft, and has flashed for Oakland and Cincinnati at times. Howard can make some splash plays, but isn't the most consistent player. Brown could be a late first-round pick, but looks more likely to go early on Friday night. His career,and his game could mirror Howard's.
NFL Matches: St. Louis, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Detroit, New Orleans
Brown could be an option for the Rams atop the second round. They need an outside linebacker, and Brown could be the best player available at a position of need. Cleveland will be searching for a linebacker to go with Chris Gocong and D'Qwell Jackson, and they could target Brown. The Bucs need a few linebackers, and Brown could be a good scheme fit.
If Brown were to fall deep into the second round, two teams that he would fit well are the Lions and Saints. They both need linebackers and could consider trading up for him.