The NFL Draft can be a notoriously fickle process. The next few months will include a surplus of mock drafts and differing opinions dispersed across the internet and the airwaves. Several blue-chip prospects and potential late-round gems will see their stock vary significantly leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft.
While you typically see that type of movement when forecasting the latter part of the first round and into the second round, the projected top-10 is typically comprised of the same candidates, albeit a different order. These players are expected to make an instant impact on their respective franchises, many lauded as future All-Pros.
Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown has a chance to become one of those players and is one of the premier players in the 2020 NFL Draft. This piece highlights Derrick Brown’s NFL outlook, as well as his final two seasons at Auburn, and explains why he will be a top-10 selection in April.
Coming off his first season as a starter in 2017 — a season in which he amassed 56 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, and 3.0 sacks — Brown garnered national attention by the conclusion of his junior campaign.
Named to the Nagurski Trophy and Outland Trophy preseason watch lists, Brown compiled 48 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks on the season. The 6-foot-5, 318-pound junior highlights included a career day against LSU (9 tackles), and a four-tackle, 2.5 tackles-for-loss, one-sack outing against Texas A&M.
Brown was named a second-team All-SEC selection by SEC media and coaches, and a fourth-team All-SEC selection by Phil Steele for his efforts.
Prior to the season, Brown was named to multiple watch lists, including the Bednarik Award — a prestigious award recognizing the top defensive player in college football — and the Outland Trophy Award. Additionally, he was chosen as a first-team All-SEC selection by both SEC media/coaches and Phil Steele.
Widely regarded as one of the top players in the country entering this season, Brown would not disappoint.
In 11 games, the burly defensive tackle amassed 49 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, 4 passes defended, 2 fumble recoveries, and 2 forced fumbles. While his sack total dipped ever so slightly, Brown proved he could be overcome the frequent double teams and be disruptive in other ways. His senior highlights included a seven-tackle, one-sack showing in a close affair against second-ranked LSU, and a four-tackle, two-sack outing against Texas A&M.
In Auburn’s thrilling 48-45 win over Alabama in last Saturday’s Iron Bowl, Brown posted an encouraging seven tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss against perhaps the best offensive line in college football.
While the Bednarik Award, awarded to the best defensive player in the country, has yet to be decided, let me give you my vote: Derrick Brown.
Brown has shown the ability to single-handedly take a game over, oftentimes while battling through double teams. An up-the-field penetrator, Brown uses his imposing strength to his advantage, overpowering offensive guards, and effectively collapsing the pocket.
His athleticism and burst off the line of scrimmage is something to behold, as the lengthy mauler is almost always the first player off the ball. Something that isn’t discussed nearly enough is Brown’s hand usage, where he once again uses his power to essentially bench press offensive lineman into the backfield, which ultimately results in negative plays for the offense.
Standing at a hulking 6-foot-5, pad level is not an issue for Brown, as he generally wins his one-on-one matchups by getting underneath offensive linemen’s pads and driving through them with a signature bull rush.
While his value may not always be measured by sacks, Brown’s value as a disruptive defensive lineman can not be understated. Pressure up the middle is perhaps the biggest nuisance to any quarterback. When a defensive line is able to generate pressure from the interior, it collapses the pocket from the inside, effectively pushing offensive lineman into the quarterback’s lap and getting him off his desired spot.
Brown is equally dominant against the run, using his elite quickness and fluidity to sift through traffic and clog up running lanes. He has the ability to become one of the rare three-down defensive tackles at the next level.
Derrick Brown NFL Outlook
To me, Brown is a tailor-made defensive lineman for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are currently on course to pick in the top-10. Jacksonville has seemingly tried everything possible to solve their porous run defense this season, but nothing has seemed to work. Adding a player like Brown, who can affect the game against both the run and the pass, would be a perfect pairing next to rookie phenom Josh Allen, as the Jaguars look to add another young cornerstone to the trenches.