Career Recap: After a rough start to the 2017 season, Auburn caught fire late in the year, including wins over the two teams that played for the National Championship, Georgia and Alabama. The Tigers' offense got a lot of attention, but their defense came up with big performances and Brown was the leader on that side of the ball. In 2017, he totaled 56 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles for the year. Brown caused more is disruption than the numbers illustrate and created a lot of negative plays for the offense. It was a breakout year for Brown, who only totaled 11 tackles and one sack as a freshman in 2016.
2018 Season Outlook: As one would expect, Brown is going to see some talented offensive lines during the 2019 season. Brown is going to see some quality opponents in games against LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama. Perhaps the best guard he will see all season is Tennessee sophomore Tre Smith. That game on October 13 could be a battle of future first-rounders.
Skill-Set Summary: The NFL is always on the look out for interior pass-rushers. They are a tough commodity to find, and getting to the quarterback from the inside is the fastest method to put pressure on a quarterback. As a result, Brown figures to be a highly sought-after prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft. Brown is a versatile defender who is extremely tough to block with a real presence as a rusher and run defender.
As a pass-rusher, Brown beats blockers with variety. He is very strong and routinely pushes the pocket with his bull rush. Brown also uses his heavy hands and uppe- body strength to shed blocks at the point of attack. Consistently, you see him toss blockers to the side and charge after the quarterback. Brown possesses good speed with a burst to close and the ability to fire by blockers. His speed off the snap makes him a natural three-technique defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense. With his power and ability to bull rush, he also could play nose tackle.
On top of his unique combination of strength and speed, Brown has tremendous instincts. He uses good vision to redirect and has a real feel for how plays evolve. That leads to him making big plays in pursuit and out of giving a second effort. On top of his instincts and great skill set, Brown is a violent football player. He puts ball-carriers to the turf hard and is very rough with offensive lineman. Blocking Brown is an extremely difficult proposition, and he wears out interior blockers.
In run defense, Brown is effective. He uses his strength to hold his ground at the point of attack. Many college interior pass-rushers struggle to defend downhill runs coming straight at them, but Brown is the exception. He stuffs blocks at the line of scrimmage and doesn't get pushed back thanks to his strength with good leverage. Brown will also toss blocks to the side and make tackles in the ground game.
According to preseason data from NFL teams, they have Brown with a 40-yard dash time of 4.95 seconds, which is very fast for a defensive lineman of his size. They also have him with 34.25-inch arms, 8.5-inch hands, and an 82.75-inch wingspan. Brown has enough length, strength and athleticism to get consideration as a 3-4 defensive end, although playing the three-technique in a 4-3 would be his best fit.
Infinitely more important than my opinion, is what NFL scouts think. Here is how one advance scout summarized Brown, "He's a first-rounder all the way. Of the guys in the southeast, the only one I would put above him entering the season is Raekwon Davis - Alabama. I think Brown is better than the Clemson guys - Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence. Brown can play the [three-technique] or the one-technique. He has real strength to him and can push the pocket in the pass rush."
2019 NFL Draft Expectations: Entering the 2018 season, sources have told me that they feel that Brown is a definite first-rounder and he could be a top-16 talent for the 2019 NFL Draft.