Rare athletes have a way of rising up the ranks. It’s simply the nature of the NFL Draft‘s developmental focus. Prospects who have the potential to do more are sought after, at every position. And while he still needs to prove that he belongs, UNI offensive tackle Spencer Brown has the potential to do more than most of his 2021 NFL Draft counterparts.
Spencer Brown NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Offensive Tackle
- School: Northern Iowa
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 6’8 1/2″
- Weight: 311 pounds
- Wingspan: 82 3/8″
- Arm: 34″
- Hand: 10 3/8″
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Tony Pauline’s Spencer Brown Scouting Report
Positives: Massive right-tackle prospect with starting potential at the next level. Fires off the snap, shows explosiveness at the point, and effectively blocks with leverage for a taller lineman. Plays with a nasty attitude, displays strength, and easily turns defenders off the line. Gets his hands into opponents, steers them from the action, and controls defenders once engaged at the point.
Makes outstanding use of blocking angles, anchors in pass protection, and keeps his feet moving. Keeps his head on a swivel and looks for someone to hit. Quickly recognizes assignments and works well with linemates.
Negatives: Lacks quick, fluid footwork off the edge. Struggles adjusting in motion. Lacks lateral blocking range. Struggled during Senior Bowl practices.
Analysis: Brown looked terrific in 2019 before deciding to opt-out last season and having issues at the Senior Bowl. He’s a long, strong right-tackle prospect with above-average athleticism who displays a feel for blocking. Brown comes with a terrific upside, and if he gets his game back to where it was in 2019 and continues to develop, he could eventually break into a starting lineup in the NFL.
Spencer Brown Player Profile
As transcendent as Spencer Brown’s profile now appears, there was a time when nobody saw that potential. Nobody but Northern Iowa.
Brown went to high school in Lenox, Iowa. The town, which has a population of less than 1,500, only fielded a football team with eight players. On that team, Brown was a 6-foot-8, 244-pound tight end. He stood out amongst his peers, but no one came to see him. He was a zero-star recruit in the 2016 class, and none of the nearby powerhouses — Iowa, Iowa State, and North Dakota State — showed any interest.
Nevertheless, all it takes is one. The Northern Iowa Panthers approached Brown with an offer late in the process, and Brown signed in February of 2016. The Panthers’ coaching staff saw potential in Brown and aimed to mold him into a standout player on the offensive line.
Spencer Brown’s career as a UNI offensive tackle
In the end, offensive tackle Spencer Brown developed even better than the UNI coaches might have imagined. But it still took time for him to ready himself for perpetual contact in the trenches.
Brown redshirted his freshman season, building up weight and learning the nuances of offensive line play. As a redshirt freshman, he got his first experience as a reserve tackle. His on-field reps helped him apply what he’d learned in real-time, and slowly but surely, Brown started to develop and hone his natural talent.
Browns’ transition to a starting role
In 2018, Brown got the first start of his career. He wasn’t full-time at this point. Nevertheless, as he continued to add to his frame and learn the position, the UNI tackle flashed more and more. He became a full-time starter in 2019 and played well enough in that season to be named a preseason FCS All-American for the 2020 campaign.
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Unfortunately for Brown, who was now a towering behemoth, the 2020 FCS season was delayed until spring. Brown could have transferred to a Power Five school, in an attempt to quell concerns surrounding his competition level. But Brown didn’t, citing loyalty to the program that developed him.
Soon, it became clear that he wouldn’t play the spring season, either. The UNI tackle declared for the 2021 NFL Draft in late August and later accepted an invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl in January of 2021.
Analyzing Spencer Brown’s NFL Draft profile
We’ve covered plenty of tremendous athletes this offseason, but few of them have the sheer combination of size and mobility that Spencer Brown has. Brown stands around 6-foot-8, 311 pounds for the Northern Iowa Panthers. The point to be taken is: He’s big.
Brown is a high-hipped tackle with long arms, and yet, he moves extremely well for his size. The UNI tackle has good spryness both out of his stance and moving laterally. He also brings a wide base as a pass blocker. As a run blocker, he has the athleticism to seek out his targets and drive them out of the play.
Brown also provides impressive change-of-direction skills and flexibility. As a run blocker, he has the ability to change his blocking angle as the play progresses. On pass blocking reps, he has the freedom of motion to turn his hips and drive his opponent to the ground, once that opponent gets around to the back of the pocket.
Furthermore, with all his size and mobility, Brown also brings visible power and grip strength. His length helps him to convert whatever strength he has into force on the field, but Brown also brings a good amount of natural power as well. When the UNI tackle times his extensions well, he can move his opponents back with ease and create space for his teammates. It helps that he has a true finisher’s mentality, and he seeks to put his adversaries in the dirt.
What are the issues with Brown?
The natural talent is immense with Spencer Brown. However, there are a few withstanding questions regarding his transition to the NFL level. As is always the case, FCS prospects may need more time to acclimate. Brown, with his rare physical profile, adds another layer of uncertainty.
Against FCS competition, he appeared to have the requisite athleticism for his size. But against bigger, stronger, faster defensive linemen in the NFL, how will he fare? Will Brown lack the lateral quickness required to employ his length? Will he play too high to combat bendy edge rushers? Even though he appears to have high-quality traits, the uncertainty is magnified with Brown’s transition to the professional game.
Additionally, there are some visible areas of improvement on the field with Brown. The UNI offensive tackle shows flashes of violent, powerful, and precise hands, but he can be inconsistent there. He can also have trouble responding to counters, and he doesn’t always showcase the elite recovery athleticism or balance necessary to compensate. He has the athletic traits, but he may need to improve his balance at the next level.
Furthermore, Brown can also be inconsistent with his blocking angles. There are reps where he covers the field well but then fails to levy direct contact by taking a faulty angle. He’ll have to clean that up, given the faster overall pace of the NFL. He is trending up with his awareness and IQ, but there’s still work to be done.
Senior Bowl Performance
Luckily for Spencer Brown, he was able to give NFL scouts a first-hand look at his extraordinary physical traits at the Senior Bowl in January. He had a few hiccups going up against Power Five competition. However, Brown managed to turn the week into a positive. Here’s more on his Senior Bowl performance, from our National Team Practice Report.
“Spencer Brown trended up throughout the Senior Bowl’s National Team practices, which is always what you want to see. He had a bit of a rocky start and needed to adjust to improve his leverage against lower opponents. Brown managed to do that through Wednesday and Thursday. He improved his composure and was more consistent with his hands, and his tremendous athletic traits started to shine through as a result. Brown successfully validated his upside at the Senior Bowl. He didn’t take over, but he did the next best thing — he grew.”
Spencer Brown’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Spencer Brown is an elite athlete at the offensive tackle position. His athletic traits should be able to translate. However, with those traits, he also brings plenty of room for improvement. Time will tell if the challenge of the transition will impede his ability to keep refining his game.
Having said that, Brown clearly has the tools. That fact was reinforced at the Senior Bowl, and it was also reinforced at his pro day. There, Brown logged a Relative Athletic Score of 10 — tied for the highest ever at offensive tackle.
Standing at 6-foot-8, 311 pounds, the Northern Iowa offensive tackle put up a 4.94 40-yard dash, a 1.69 10-yard split, a 32.5-inch vertical, a 117-inch broad jump, a 4.4 shuttle time, a 6.96 three-cone time, and 29 bench reps with 34-inch arms. If his athletic score doesn’t already communicate it, Brown is a legitimately incomprehensible athlete, from a numbers standpoint. Teams will be clamoring for those high-end traits.
What destinations mesh with Brown’s talents?
Earlier in the offseason, Brown was seen as a high-upside developmental tackle in the mid-to-late Day 2 range. However, now that his athleticism has been quantified, the bounds to his ascension have lifted. Brown is likely a Round 2 pick at the latest with his traits, and it wouldn’t be out of character for an NFL team to take him in Round 1.
Brown will need a lot of seasoning at the NFL level, but he has the athleticism to dominate if he takes to NFL coaching. In Brown’s draft range, teams like the Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Rams, and Los Angeles Chargers might look to add Brown. All it takes is one team to love Brown’s tools, and he’ll go far higher than anyone could have anticipated.
Spencer Brown is a high-upside NFL Draft prospect who brings a lot of the necessary foundational traits to his game. That alone will earn him plenty of fans on draft night, even in spite of his need for more consistent leverage and positioning. He needs to prove he can carry his physical upside over to the NFL. However, with his mobility, length, and tenacity, he has the makeup required to develop and succeed. If he does, he has the potential to be one of the best players at his position.
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