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A two-star linebacker recruit out of high school, Brown initially committed to Florida Atlantic before flipping to Ohio and redshirting in 2012. After seeing limited action as a redshirt freshman, he became a starter in 2014 as a sophomore and posted 55 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss and two passes defended (the only two of his career). Brown started 11 games as a junior in 2015 and recorded 65 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. His breakthrough season came in 2016 as a senior with a team-best 128 tackles, adding 15.0 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble to earn First Team All-MAC honors.
A three-year starter at Ohio, Brown was a three-down WILL linebacker for the Bobcats, turning in the senior season he needed to gain the attention of NFL teams. Scouts rolled through Athens specifically to see senior pass rusher Tarell Basham, but the speedy linebacker quickly established himself as a legitimate pro prospect worthy of their time. Brown is looking to follow in the footsteps of Jatavis Brown (no relation), another athletic but undersized MAC linebacker who was drafted in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Although his lack of size stands out immediately, Brown flies all over the field and arrives with violence, filling quickly and powerful at contact. He has some limitations once engaged and when dropping in coverage, but his downhill instincts, discipline and hunting mentality allow him to play the run, blitz, zone drop and do a little bit of everything early day three prospect who will add immediate depth at linebacker.
STRENGTHS: Above average play speed and range. Looks like he was shot out of a cannon when he sees the play unfold, closing to beat blockers to the spot. Anticipates based on formations to get a head start on the play. Downhill quickness to clear holes before blockers can make contact. High batting average as a tackler due to his balance in motion, textbook pad level and grip strength. Doesnt back down at the point of attack and plays with pop in his hands. Strokes ballcarriers across the middle of the field. Competes with the same physical temperament and determination on every snap. Experienced with spot drops. Football smart and his preparation shows on game days. Self-starter and wants to be great. Doesnt play with a passive bone in his body. Highly productive senior season, leading the MAC with 128 total tackles and finishing third in the conference with 15.0 tackles for loss (one behind Basham).
WEAKNESSES: Undersized with narrow shoulders and shorter-than-ideal arm length. Can be engulfed near the line of scrimmage and his play strength doesnt always match his intentions. Struggles to match up vs. bigger bodies and gets bullied. Quick trigger and susceptible to ball fakes. Too reactive in coverage with better instincts vs. the run than the pass. Caught flat-footed in his drops and late to make plays on the ball, registering only two passes defended over 33 career starts (and none the past two seasons). Stayed healthy as a senior, but lacks ideal body armor and missed at least one game each of the previous three seasons due to minor bumps and bruises.