The Curious Case of Orlando Brown
The buzz after the NFL Scouting Combine usually starts with which players impressed the most. Descriptions stem from elite 40-yard dash times among other drills in which top performers show off their athleticism. However, that's not always the case.
A prospect had a bad combine performance. So, what?
When a top prospect turns in one of the worst performances in combine history, it becomes a big deal.
Oklahoma left tackle prospect Orlando Brown Jr. brought an incredible resume to the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine filled with a multitude of accolades in his three-year playing career. Brown started 40 consecutive games in the past three seasons receiving first team All-American accolades in 2016 and 2017 while also being named the Big 12 offensive lineman of the year in those two seasons.
The near surefire first round pick heading into March had just one more big step to solidify that status.
Brown didn't have the perception from teams and media members to overwhelmingly test well at the Scouting Combine. Actually, there was probably some sort of imaginary buffer to give him a pass on some drills in which many bigger participants don't particularly test well. Even given the perception of falling below the gauge of most players, Brown pushed the mark down even further.
A lot further.
His historically poor performance in Indianapolis doesn't suit well for the decision makers atop the first round of the draft eyeing a true left tackle to hold down the blind side.
Former NFL Scouting Combine participants that have similar statures to Brown:
|Player||Height||Weight||40-Yard Dash||Bench Press||Vertical Jump||Broad Jump||3-Cone Drill||Short Shuttle|
When put side-by-side to past participants of similar size and position, Brown still doesn't compare favorably in most areas. With agility drills tossed aside, many players listed above proved their strength on the 225-pound bench press despite the difficult task of lifting the weight with longer limbs creating a longer path to lock out. Brown's 14 repetitions are almost jaw dropping even when factoring in any disadvantage that can be pardoned for a man of his length.
So, that's it. Brown is off the first round draft boards because of his extremely poor performance in Indianapolis in his biggest job interview he will ever have.
Don't be too eager to jump on that bet quite yet.
It's not a fluke that Brown's career at Oklahoma featured back-to-back first team All-American bids along with being a multi-member of the first team All-Big 12 conference team. His frowned upon numbers over the weekend didn't just magically appear after a highly-decorated career for the three-time Big 12 champion.
Brown at Lucas Oil Stadium for 2018 NFL Scouting Combine (Photo Credit: Michael Conroy, AP)
One of the eight tackles charted in the 2018 Tackle Testing that is featured in Optimum Scouting's 2018 NFL Draft Guide (available for purchase in mid-March), Brown wasn't spectacular but wasn't poor either. His pass protection numbers ranked slightly below average but he still surrendered fewer pressures than first round hopefuls Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame) and Kolton Miller (UCLA) along with Day 2 prospect Chukwuma Okorafor (Western Michigan).
His pass protection success rate at 90 percent ranks higher than three charted in the 2018 edition while being tied with Connor Williams of Texas. His 90 percent rating tested higher than every tackle charted in the 2017 edition including first round picks Garett Bolles (Denver) and Ryan Ramczyk (Saints) along with Day 2 selections Dion Dawkins (Buffalo) and Cam Robinson (Alabama).
Brown's marks in the second level and when pulling to the right side of the line ranked above average compared to the rest of the pack. Though his lack of lower-body explosion at the Scouting Combine did not do him any favors, it may not necessarily translate to the field as his deficiencies weren't exposed as often as many would think.
Though having impressive numbers (those charted in Tackle Testing) compared to his peers over the past two seasons, figures on paper at the collegiate level are not the final determinants of what makes a first-round prospect. However, it does show that despite his poor athleticism, he managed to produce at a high level against top competition.
Every prospect has a weakness and many of them at that. But what separates good from great prospects are those that have trump cards to their known shortcomings.
Brown's giant-esque frame provides him with length and girth to hold down the edge even in speed situations. He locates his defender and latches on with his long limbs to keep the pocket clean. Maintaining an effective kick slide with long strides to cover plenty of ground, Brown's active feet and powerful demeanor prove to cause constant frustration among defenders.
When moving off his mark in the run game, he is not always the agile athlete many coaches would want. However, he gets the job done. His ability to hit on trap blocks (recorded the most pull/trap blocks among all tackles charted in the 2018 study) and at the second level don't always look pretty but do attribute to the desired result of the play. His nasty streak comes into play when grinding in the run game proving to be powerful despite his low mark on the bench press.
Brown has his limitations and imperfections. That should not be, and will not be, dismissed, especially when being compared to his current and past contemporaries. However, even when dealing with the noticeable drawbacks taken from the Scouting Combine, Brown made it work at Oklahoma.
Making it work in the NFL is not an impossible feat either, no matter the poor marks that will describe him throughout the draft process.