Brown struggled at the NFL Combine, but can he bounce back to have a successful NFL career?
The Sports Quotient’s annual Draft Preview series returns! Over the course of the eight weeks leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, we will take a look at the top NFL prospects at each position. This week, we dive into the offensive line positions. Today, we look at Orlando Brown Jr. from the University of Oklahoma.
Prior to choosing to go to Oklahoma, Brown committed to go to the University of Tennessee. However, after further consideration, he switched his commitment to Oklahoma, where he redshirted in 2014. Entering college, Brown was expected to have a big impact because his father, Orlando Brown Sr., played in the NFL for 11 seasons.
As a redshirt freshman in 2015, Brown lived up to those expectations by starting all 13 games at left tackle, also earning the honor of being named a freshman All-American. Then in 2016, as a sophomore, he was named Big-12 Offensive Lineman of the Year. He followed this up with an even more dominant junior season in which he was named a first team All-American. Brown put together one of the best three-year stretches of any college lineman in this year’s class.
Brown’s success at the college level is undeniable. He put together three straight seasons of good football and earned high award recognition in each and every year, validating his success. Pro Football Focus had Brown as the second highest graded offensive tackle during the 2017 season with a 88.4. Additionally, he was second among tackles in positively graded rushing plays, behind only Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey.
While at Oklahoma, Brown was tested by some of the best defensive fronts in the country, including Ohio State and Georgia during the 2017 season. His success against those teams bode well for his ability to translate to the NFL because those are the types of talents he will see at the next level.
Brown had a lot of traction towards being a potential first round pick heading into the NFL combine. However, he had one of the least impressive combine performances in recent history. He ran a 5.85 40-yard dash, the worst time of any player at the combine this year. He also only posted 14 reps on the bench press, which for a 6‘8, 360-pound offensive tackle, is flat out horrible.
It is hard to explain Brown’s poor performance at the combine, but it definitely made him look unprepared. Teams will be skeptical of his commitment to being in shape, and he will likely have to answer some tough questions during the rest of the pre-draft process.
Teams that like what they saw of Brown on tape are going to do their best to ignore the NFL Combine results, but it won’t be easy to do. Brown was able to improve all of his numbers at the Oklahoma Pro Day, which will help him going forward, but his 19 reps on the bench press still wasn’t particularly impressive.
With all the success at the college level, the tape will be Brown’s best friend. He played so well in so many big games, which will prove to a team that he can indeed be a reliable starter in the NFL. He will need to convince teams that he is committed to being in excellent game shape, but that is something he cannot prove in any interview. It is something he will have to prove come training camp, so whatever team takes him is going to have to be okay with taking a risk.
Going in the first round of the draft is probably out of the cards for Brown at this point, but there is still hope he could go on day two of the draft. Teams that are in need of a mid-round offensive tackle will look at Brown as a potential steal. Some of the best fits would be the Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, or Cincinnati Bengals.
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- South Carolina State