Zach Brown Scout

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May 122012
 

 

Outside Linebacker/Middle Linebacker

North Carolina

6-1 244

Draft board overall prospect rank: #14

Draft board outside linebacker rank: #1

Overall rating: 88 (Solid first round prospect)

40 time: 4.44

Games watched:  North Carolina/LouisvilleClemson/North CarolinaNC State/North CarolinaVirginia Tech/North Carolina

Positives

·         Incredibly athletic

·         Long arms

·         Fast sideline to sideline ability

·         Excellent timed speed (4.44)

·         Unofficially clocked at 4.28 before the season

·         Great burst and explosiveness

·         Moves like a defensive back

·         Covers tight ends and backs out of the backfield very well

·         Had tight one on one coverage with Dwayne Allen in their matchup

·         Makes a lot of splash plays

·         An excellent blitzer

·         Great quickness of the edge

·         Incredibly productive in 2011 (105 tackles, 13.5 for loss, 5.5 sacks, 4 deflections, 3 interceptions)

·         Could project to 3-4 as a middle linebacker

·         Great ball skills

·         Reads quarterbacks’ eyes ball

·         Dangerous in open field after interception

·         In great shape

·         Puts forth good effort on the field

Negatives

·         A little undersized

·         Needs to be more reactive

·         Relies more on his physical abilities than technique

·         Reportedly has attitude issues and had problems with his coaches

·         Only a one year starter

·         Goes for the big hit rather than the safer tackle

·         Unrefined as a big rusher

·         Technique in coverage could use some work

·         Doesn’t always take the best route to the ball carrier

NFL Comparison: NaVorro Bowman

Brown reminds me of NaVorro Bowman. Bowman fell to the 3rd round in 2010 even though he had 1st round talent because of character concerns and attitude problems. He was incredibly athletic, but unrefined. The 49ers took a chance on him in the 3rd round and he’s fallen into the perfect situation in San Francisco, even though many thought he wouldn’t fit in a 3-4. He’s become one of the best middle linebackers in the league as Jim Harbaugh and his staff have brought the most out of him.

If Brown lands with a coaching staff that can bring the most out of him, he can be just as good of a player. Conversely, if he lands in the wrong place, he won’t be nearly as good as he could be. He’s a fantastic athletic and even better than Bowman. He showed it with a 4.44 40 at 6-1 244 at The Combine and can fit into any scheme because, at his best, he’s got such versatile abilities and athleticism.

He’s still unrefined, but he’s a 3 down linebacker who can drop into coverage and cover fast tight ends and running backs and he is a very effective blitzer when called on. He always seems to make splash plays when I watch him and he had such a productive 2011 season, though his play trailed a bit as the season went on. He is only a one year starter, but he had a good 2010 season as a reserve who made a few starts.

Brown will probably go in the 2nd round, but I have a 1st round grade on him. I think he is such a rare athlete and with some good coaching, he can be a special player. I agree there’s some boom or bust to him with the rawness and the rumored attitude problems, but I think the positives outweigh the negatives with him. He is in excellent physical shape and puts forth good effort on the football field on tape.

 

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