Since being inserted into the starting lineup Derrick Brown has been a dominant presence in the middle of Auburn’s defense. Over the last two years Brown has lived in the opponents backfield with 20 tackles for loss. Brown as been able to do this with elite run stuffing ability. But if Derrick Brown wants to be considered an elite prospect worthy of taken in the top 10 of the 2020 NFL Draft he has to show he’s more than just an elite run stuffer. He take a look at what makes Brown such a good run stuffer and whether he has enough run stuffing ability to be considered elite.
Derrick Brown vs the Run
Using elite strength and power Derrick Brown is able to hold his own against any type of block. Want to double team him? Brown is going to be able is able to anchor in and clog up a hole, freeing up a teammate to make the play. Don’t even try to block him one on one as he’s able to get his hands on the lineman and either put them on skates and drive them into the backfield or shuck them and attack the ball carrier. Combine this with some short area burst and maybe it’s a better decision to run away from him.
Derrick Brown Rushing the Quarterback
Using his elite power Brown’s best method for getting pressure and sacks is to just overpower the offensive lineman in route to the quarterback. While that may work against college offensive lineman, in the NFL he’ll be facing crafty veterans or players who are not as weak. This is why the top pass rushers have lateral quickness and good hand usage that allows them to get off blocks. Derrick Brown has shown some lateral quickness and quality hand usage but too often it’s just brute strength. Developing a club or rip type move plays into Brown’s strengths and could do wonders.
Over the last couple of drafts we’ve seen pure run stuffers go early. Vita Vea was drafted 12th overall in 2018 while Dexter Lawrence was drafted 17th in 2019 by the New York Giants. From what I’ve seen Derrick Brown is a better prospect than Dexter Lawrence as Brown is a better athlete who has better position flexibility. You can line up Brown out at the 3 technique and he can play in the 3-4 or 4-3 defense. While Vea was a good run defender that is about the only comparison you can have between him and Brown.
If anything Brown resembles a lot of Jeffery Simmons in how he plays. The key will be whether or not Brown can take the next step in his pass rushing ability. But Simmons only had 7 sacks at the same point in his career while Brown has 8.5. But Simmons also had 11.5 more tackles for loss. Luckily Brown still has one more year of college and can really utilize this year to break out and show he can be a dominant interior presence.