Name: Orlando Brown
Position: Offensive Tackle
Brown’s size is the primary attribute keeping him in the discussion as one of the better tackle prospects. He played this year at 6-foot-8, 360 pounds before dipping to about 345 at the combine. His mass goes a long way to making him a successful blocker as he is just a load to get through or around. Plus, he has elite length with 35-inch arms and long legs.
And now we get into the downsides. As far as combine numbers go, Brown was one of the worst performers in history. His 5.85 40-yard dash and poor jumping and agility numbers left many scouts wondering if he truly has the ability to be an NFL left tackle. Brown improved on all of those numbers at the Oklahoma pro day, but the damage had been done. Scouts now view his college career as one thriving on size and demeanor, despite a dearth of athleticism to match.
Brown’s athletic deficiencies would perhaps not be so glaring if he had the strength to compensate. But 14 bench reps at the combine, 18 at his pro day are sub-par, as well. Granted, Brown’s long arms work against him in the bench press. But given his run blocking style is a lot more upper body than leg drive, many expected the number to be higher. At his core, Brown is more big than powerful. He is hard to get by or go through because he is a mammoth of a man. Against strong interior NFL players, however, Brown may find he does not lord over opponents like he used to.
Everything is high. Brown fires out high, he engages high, he drives high, he down blocks high, he pulls high, he moves to the second level high. It is somewhat understandable as he is one of the tallest prospects in the draft. Plus, so long as he has the strength advantage, Brown’s leverage is decent. But in college, he thrived on mass. Once Brown stuck to his man, there was little getting around him. Perhaps as a result, his technique suffered for it. And he could struggle to maintain his balance against NFL tackles and ends who are able to take on his mass.
His biggest issue is that he does not bend at the knees, he bends at the waist. Even when he fires out low, it is at a 90 degree angle with his head leading. You can see it in Brown’s stance; his knees stay straight and he bends over. His feet are also not particularly active in his run blocking as he chooses instead to try to overpower and bench press his man rather than drive him. Brown’s one saving grace is that he has a mauler’s mentality. He wants to finish blocks hard and get his man on the ground, and he has the power to do it. But he will struggle to do so at the next level without a lot of technique work. Brown simply does not have the athleticism to be sloppy.
With Brown, pass pro is all about length and punch. He can land hard shots off the set due to his long arms, which makes up for his lack of speed and quickness. He can match a speed rush relatively well because of his long strides. But counter rushes will almost certainly give him trouble in the NFL. He has the length to recover and ride, so getting burned is not a death knell for him, but his lack of athleticism is less than ideal for a prospective tackle. Fortunately for Brown, he remains active as a pass blocker, generally keeping his feet and hands moving well into the progression. His willingness to get his man blocked and his tremendous size and length could ultimately prove enough to make Brown a good NFL tackle. But his lack of athleticism is a concern.
All it took was a couple hours at the combine for Brown to slip from arguably the top tackle to one of the draft’s most controversial prospects. An historically bad combine led scouts to go back to his tape. What many saw confirmed what the 40-yard dash suggested: Brown may not have the athleticism to be the stud some thought he would be. And now he is viewed as a project pick who may slip well into the second, maybe even the third round.
The Vikings need a rookie who can start day one. Is Brown that guy? It certainly does not seem like it at this point. But if we make the assumption the Vikings draft a guard earlier and Brown is sitting there in round two or three, the size and talent may be too much to pass on. With a move to right tackle and a lot of coaching, he very well could have a good NFL future in front of him. Given a year of development as a swing tackle, Brown could step into a starting role a year from now.
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