In the last four seasons, Michigan State has had a defensive back drafted to the NFL. Can junior cornerback Shakur Brown continue that Michigan State tradition as he heads to the 2021 NFL Draft? The defensive playmaker appears to be flying under-the-radar despite finishing second in the nation for interceptions in his final year with the Spartans.
Shakur Brown NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Cornerback
- School: Michigan State
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 5’9 3/4″
- Weight: 185 pounds
Tony Pauline’s Shakur Brown Scouting Report
Positives: Developing cornerback coming off a career season. Physical, mixes it up with opponents throughout the route, and does not back down from a challenge. Quick flipping his hips in transition, displays good hands for the interception, and plays heads-up football. Keeps the action in front of him and possesses outstanding ball skills.
Stays on the receiver’s hip out of breaks and has a nice burst to the pass out of his plant. Runs downfield with receivers, reads the opponent’s eyes, then gets his head back around and positions himself to defend or intercept the pass. Works to get upfield and defend screen passes.
Negatives: Deep play speed may be a concern. Shows indecision in his game. Peaks in the backfield, which will cost him. Gets a bit grabby at times.
Analysis: Brown has shown steady progress the past three years and really jumped off the film at times last season. He possesses a knack for breaking up throws, comes with an upside, and has enough ability to line up in nickel packages at the next level.
Shakur Brown Player Profile
Michigan State cornerback Shakur Brown began his path to the 2021 NFL Draft as a versatile playmaker at Woodland High School. Like most high school kids, the Stocksbridge, Georgia, native filled a multitude of roles. However, he didn’t just fill those roles. He excelled. His contributions as a senior punt returner earned him Region 4-5A Special Teams Player of the Year.
His performances in all three phases of the game helped Woodland reach the playoffs for the first team in school history. Along the way, he contributed touchdowns by way of an interception return, rushing, and a punt return. Further showcasing his versatile skill set, he also logged pass receptions as a senior. He earned recognition for his play with Georgia 5A All-State First Team honors.
As a result of his all-around contribution, he was tabbed as an “athlete” by recruiting sites. A three-star high school prospect, he was ranked as the 77th athlete in the class and 115th player in the state of Georgia. He attracted national attention from the powerhouses like Tennessee and Ole Miss alongside multiple small-school offers.
Committing to West Virginia in January 2017, it appeared likely that he would make his home as a Mountaineer. However, in a surprise move, he enrolled at Michigan State instead.
Shakur Brown’s college football career at Michigan State
A late enrollee who came out of high school at 170 pounds, Shakur Brown redshirted in 2017. However, he impressed his Michigan State coaches early on, earning Scout Team Defensive Player of the Week honors. If there would be any doubt over which position he’d play for the Spartans upon his arrival, there wasn’t anymore.
After making his debut against Utah State, Brown demonstrated his playmaking ability against Indiana. The Michigan State cornerback returned an interception for a 69-yard touchdown. Although that would be the highlight of his redshirt freshman season, it would serve as a little taste of what was to come.
He opened the 2019 season with a pair of sacks against Tulsa before losing six games to injury. On his return, he secured his second career interception against Illinois to start a run of starts and productivity. Over a four-game span, he broke up five passes. He started five games to finish the season, helping him to secure a starting position for his final season with the Spartans.
Becoming a disruptive playmaker in a disrupted college football season
Despite the disruption of the 2020 college football season, Shakur Brown started all seven games for Michigan State at cornerback. He opened the season with an interception against Rutgers. In a standout game against Indiana, Brown had a career-high 6 tackles while snagging 2 interceptions. It was the first of consecutive games with multiple interceptions.
In the following game against Northwestern, he added two more. The first one set up a Michigan State touchdown. Meanwhile, the second gave the Spartans a game-winning field goal as they surprised the Wildcats. Although the Spartans finished 2-5 for the season, Brown’s performances earned him First Team All-Big Ten honors.
Following the season, Michigan State cornerback opted to forego his remaining eligibility and declare for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Shakur Brown’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Despite his production in 2020, Michigan State cornerback Shakur Brown could be considered an under-the-radar prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. Due to injury in 2019 and the shortened 2020 season, he enters the process as a relatively inexperienced and therefore raw prospect. However, Brown has demonstrated the ability to play both outside and slot cornerback which gives him added value as a versatile piece.
Shakur Brown would best fit as a press corner in a team that favors a man coverage scheme. Some teams that provide scheme and need fits include the Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns, and Atlanta Falcons. Although they may not be the primary needs for those teams, they could address them later on. Thus, Michigan State cornerback Shakur Brown could be a steal for them in the 2021 NFL Draft.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.