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NFL Draft Preview: Derrick Brown

NCAA Football: Alabama at Auburn John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

This week has been a long time coming for Derrick Brown. A composite top 10 player in the 2016 signing class, the big man played in every single one of Auburn’s football games the last four seasons, and started the last three years.

Under Kevin Steele and Rodney Garner, Brown evolved from a big body in the interior to an all-around elite defensive lineman. As is so often the case with defensive tackles, Brown’s numbers didn’t blow you out of the water, but his effect on the opponents’ gameplans can’t be understated.

Over his four seasons at Auburn, Brown went on to be a fan favorite. On the field, he bullied opposing offenses with a consistency not ever seen by an Auburn defensive lineman, tormenting ground games and quarterbacks with no discrimination. Off the field, his leadership and drive to be someone not just known for playing football was evident to anyone who spent more than five minutes in a room with him. Brown was a member of the SEC Student-Athlete Leadership Council for three years, was a member of the AFCA Good Works Team in 2018 and 2019, and was Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year finalist in 2018. He was president of Auburn’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee. He won the Senior CLASS Award and the Lott IMPACT Trophy in 2019.

Derrick Brown is the definition of an Auburn man.


Where to start...

Should we talk about his brute strength?

What about his motor?

Open field tackling?

His ability to blow through blocks and bring down a ball carrier?

His bear claw thwacking the ball out of the quarterback’s hands?

Derrick Brown did it all at the college level. While the highlights above are fun, though, his real calling card was being a black hole on the defensive line. Despite all the talent on the Auburn defensive front over his career at Auburn, Brown often drew double teams, leaving his teammates one-on-one looks at the quarterback.

Unlike other big defensive tackles, though, Brown was still an impact player. PFF has notoriously been down on Brown throughout the evaluation process, but even they had to admit he was one of the best in the country at causing negative plays.


Is running one of them?

I probably wouldn’t put #5 back to return kicks.

Brown certainly won’t be a high-value pass rusher as soon as he gets into the league, either. He’s not the most agile defender, and his pad level can get him in trouble sometimes. These are things that he will have to put work into to progress from an elite college player to a Pro-Bowler. But this is a guy who I have full confidence in to perfect his craft.


40 Yard Dash - 5.16 sec

Bench Press - 28 reps

Vertical Jump - 27”

Broad Jump - 108”

3 Cone Drill - 8.22 sec

20 Yard Shuttle - 4.79 sec


With the usual caveat of “barring injuries”, I’m more sure of Derrick Brown being a success in the NFL than I am of any former Auburn player I’ve watched, full stop. He’s got the physical tools to be a dominant run stopper from day one, and what he lacks in pure pass-rushing ability, he’s got the mind and the motor to make up for it. He has what it takes to be one of the greats, and I can only hope he ends up with an organization that has plans on how to help him achieve that.

Round Value: Top 10 pick