The Alabama offensive line is a factory for NFL players every year. Pursuant to the 2020 season, the Crimson Tide could generate as many as three NFL starters. There’s Alex Leatherwood, the sturdy, dependable tackle. There’s Landon Dickerson, the nasty, physical center. And there’s Alabama offensive guard Deonte Brown, who also has enormous potential as an NFL Draft prospect — pun intended.
Deonte Brown NFL Draft Profile & Senior Bowl Measurements
- Position: Offensive Guard
- School: Alabama
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 6’3 1/4″
- Weight: 364 pounds
- Wingspan: 80 3/4″
- Arm: 32 3/8″
- Hand: 9 1/8″
You may be wondering if Deonte Brown was always this big. The answer is yes. In high school, Brown was already a 6-foot-3, 340-pound interior lineman with a mean streak. He grew up in Decatur, Alabama, and played at Austin High School, all the while making a name for himself as a massive blocker with collegiate potential.
Brown was rated as a four-star prospect toward the end of his high school career. He was ranked as the seventh-overall guard in the 2016 class, and he also took up a spot on ESPN’s Top 300, coming in at 126th. Brown had offers from a few other schools, but the offer from Alabama made all other opportunities moot. For a kid who grew up in Alabama and just watched the Crimson Tide offensive line barrel over opponents with Derrick Henry, it was an easy choice to make.
Deonte Brown’s career as an Alabama guard
Brown joined the Alabama football program in 2016 but ended up redshirting his first season. In 2017, he joined the team’s active unit but didn’t crack the starting lineup just yet. Instead, Brown was a special teams blocker who also logged some experience as a reserve blocker.
In 2018, Brown’s big break came. He started the year as a reserve blocker but wound up taking over the starting role before year’s end. He started games against Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn, and Georgia, and his size quickly stood out. A violation of team rules rendered Brown suspended for the season’s final two games, but by then, he ensured a spot for him when he returned.
Brown’s suspension ran through the first four games of the 2019 season, but he returned to the starting lineup once it was over. He continued to provide stability on the line, but his best work came a year later, in 2020.
Deonte Brown’s stellar 2020 campaign
In a National Championship season buoyed by fellow NFL Draft prospects like Mac Jones, Patrick Surtain II, and Najee Harris, among others, Brown played well enough to earn first-team All-SEC honors. He helped spearhead an offense that steamrolled over its competition week in and week out. In the Championship game, they outpaced an Ohio State offense engineered by potential first-round picks like Justin Fields, Chris Olave, and Wyatt Davis.
For his career, Brown didn’t allow a single sack, and at its conclusion, he finally earned the recognition he deserved. Now, Deonte Brown gets to move on to the NFL Draft. Brown accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl back in November. There, he should continue to stand out from the crowd with his power and size.
Analyzing Deonte Brown’s NFL Draft profile
Well, to start, this guy is a boulder. Deonte Brown is 6-foot-4, 350 pounds, and he plays with all of that weight. He’s massive, wide, and hard to move, and he has an impressive pass set with a good base and solid leverage. Brown also has inspiring flashes of hand precision to go along with his footwork. He isn’t just a stationary blocker, either. Brown also has enough mobility to be a facet in several different phases, as he showed across his time at Alabama.
The Crimson Tide used Brown in a number of different ways. While he often stayed put at guard as a pass protector, there were times when he also shifted across the line to seal off the back of the protection unit. In these instances, Brown displayed solid short-area burst off the line, and he covered enough ground to get to his man. At the contact point, Brown also brings a tremendous amount of power. Not many defenders will win a collision with a 350-pound blocker.
Brown also has good utility in the running game. He doesn’t have the quickness in space or recovery athleticism to stack second-level blocks on every play. However, he has enough mobility to reach the second level, and his width allows him to carry a wide blocking radius with him. He fills so much space that he doesn’t necessarily have to take perfect angles. It helps that Brown attacks with his hands as a run blocker. He’s not sluggish; instead, he uses brisk, powerful strikes to wear defenders into submission.
What are the potential concerns with Deonte Brown?
Deonte Brown’s frame correctly implies a few things. He certainly moves much better than a 350-pound human should, but his long speed underwhelms when tracking downfield. He’s good for a strong initial block in the running game, and he has enough energy to get to the second level. However, his impact sometimes depreciates the longer the play goes on. He has a nice mauler mentality, but his stamina can improve. Trimming some weight at the NFL level could help the Alabama guard.
Additionally, Brown doesn’t have great balance or length. He has enough length to exert his power in congestion, but there are times when he lurches. In these occurrences, the Alabama guard doesn’t have the recovery athleticism to get upright again. Thus, quicker players with good length could potentially be a problem for Brown on the professional stage. Brown has the athleticism at 350 pounds to suggest that he could be even quicker and more flexible at 330 or 325. But until he makes that change, it may be a recurring issue.
Deonte Brown’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
There’s bound to be some trepidation surrounding Deonte Brown’s projection. He’s not exactly a traditional offensive guard. Furthermore, in the modern NFL, where the ability to move is even more important, a 6-foot-4, 350-pound interior lineman doesn’t look great on the surface.
With that being said, analysis of the tape alleviates some concerns. Brown is huge, yes, but he also offers decent mobility for his size, and his initial burst off the line allows him to get where he needs to be when roaming around the trenches. Brown doesn’t have the versatility that Leatherwood and Dickerson do. He’ll be confined to guard at the next level. Nevertheless, as it stands, he can be a strong starter in a power scheme, and if he trims weight, he could bring more consistency in zone concepts.
Specific teams that could utilize Brown’s talents
Brown’s unorthodox player type may scare some coaches away, but grading him on his play alone, he has potential as an early starter at the NFL level, and on Day 2 or early Day 3, he’s a good pick. Teams like the Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings, Cincinnati Bengals, and Pittsburgh Steelers constitute good schematic fits for Brown, but other teams with needs at guard might also be interested.
Brown’s measurements naturally elicit assumptions about his player type. However, it’s imperative to turn on the tape in this case. Brown can move well enough, and he brings as much power as you’d expect. There also may be some athletic upside hidden in his current form. If he can drop down to 325, which is still an excellent weight for a 6-foot-4 guard, he could be even quicker and more versatile. But as it stands now, the Alabama product is already a solid guard with starting utility.