Name: Blair Brown
Position fit: ILB
Stats to know: Ranked first in FBS in tackling efficiency with just three misses and 96 solo tackles.
What he does best:
- Ranked third in FBS in run-stop percentage; had 47 stops.
- In 2016, only Reuben Foster had higher overall and run-defense grades than Brown’s 92.4 and 91.5.
- 131 total tackles tied for the second-most among FBS ILBs.
- Very quick to diagnose and attack plays; allows him to beat blocks to the point of attack without having to fully engage and stack.
- Is particularly adept at getting underneath pulls, defeating them to inside leverage.
- Has the speed to get to the sideline from the opposite hash while at the same time staying square to his target.
- His outstanding tackling efficiency is aided by how quickly he finds the ball and the fact he keeps his feet when going for the finish.
- At 5-foot-11 ½ and 238 pounds, he has less than ideal size.
- If blockers get on top of him and initiate contact he can get swallowed up.
- Can potentially offer something on blitzes because of his ability to work off the linemen in front to find lanes but lacks the burst and power combination to be a consistent threat.
- Lacks recovery once beaten on an angle; will likely also be an issue in man coverage situations against faster backs.
- Needs to improve hand usage in order to consistently defeat bigger blockers.
- Generally appears slower in coverage – doesn’t pick up targets quickly and lacks the ability to close in time to break up passes.
Player comparison: Danny Trevathan, Chicago Bears
This comp works for both size and playing style. Trevathan is undersized for an inside linebacker, but has developed into an excellent run stopper. His production and play against the pass is not at the same level as his run play.
Bottom line: Brown is an outstanding run defender despite his size because he has an innate ability to snip plays out and beat blockers to the point of attack before they can lock onto him. He rarely loses gap integrity, and is possibly the best tackler in this linebacker class. His play against the pass, is disappointing, however, as he struggles to quickly read the QB and identify targets, and lacks the athleticism needed to consistently close in time. Brown will likely be taken much later than he should be because of his size, but his play against the run will at the very least make him a viable two-down player this fall.