Draft experts have fallen in love with the idea of mocking a defensive tackle to the Detroit Lions, and I can't really blame them. Sure, Martin Mayhew has a history of selecting the best player available rather than reaching for a need, but it's February. We're still more than two months away from the draft, and it's a lot easier to look up a team's needs rather than the tendencies of their general manager and draft history. Plus, who cares? It's a mock draft. These things are just as accurate as a Tim Tebow fastball.
I'm only saying this because I've seen plenty of people upset with the fact that draft pundits are forcing a DT to the Lions with the No. 23 overall pick. I get it. The same thing happened in previous years with the cornerback position. It can be annoying, but it's to be expected. And it's silly to get upset with these guys who are trying to please fans, scouts, agents and players alike.
With that being said, no player has been mocked to the Lions more often than Texas DT Malcom Brown. CBS Sports has him as their 20th-ranked prospect overall and their No. 3 DT. In 2014, Brown was a consensus first-team All-American and finalist for the Nagurski and Outland trophies. He decided to forgo his senior season to enter the 2015 NFL Draft.
What I really like about Malcom Brown is how well he plays the run. There are some players who tend to lower their head as they engage with blockers, but Brown always has his head up and on a swivel.
Brown is lined up across from the right guard on this play. He takes a direct line to the ball carrier and fights off a double-team from the RG and center. Despite being blatantly held by the center, he's able to keep his eyes peeled on the ball carrier while making a nice shoelace tackle for a minimal gain.
Quick First Step
Malcom Brown is very explosive and often the first player to react off the snap.
In the play above, Brown is lined up in the 3-technique over the outside shoulder of the left guard. The play is designed for the LG to pull right while the center turns his attention to Brown and attempts to drive him out of the play. Instead, Brown is too quick for the center and beats everyone off the snap. He powers through the running back and forces the QB to throw an incomplete pass off of his back foot.
Brown puts it all together on this play. He turns his quickness into power and absolutely embarrasses the right guard before finishing with a sack.
Like many DTs in this class, Malcom Brown is as raw as they come. He tends to rely on his initial quickness to make plays rather than put together a variety of different moves.
Here are a couple of examples where Brown initially gets stood up but shows his relentlessness by chucking his assignment to the side and making a play on the QB.
Many will question Brown's motor, as he tends to disappear during long spurts of games before making an occasional splash play or two. His tape versus UCLA was a perfect representation of how hot and cold he can be. After watching several of his games, I noticed that most of his production came early in games. Against UCLA, he came out swinging with a couple impressive plays right off the bat, but disappeared until late in the fourth quarter.
I also have a few concerns with Brown's ability to finish plays. There were too many instances where he made a nice effort to get into the backfield, but was unable to wrap up for the tackle.
How He Fits
As I previously stated, many draft pundits believe this is a great pick for the Lions. Brown is a raw prospect but undoubtedly a great talent. He would be a great addition to their already dominant run defense, and his initial quickness will allow him to make the occasional splash play. With that being said, it's clear that Brown will be able to contribute as a rookie, but I'm just not exactly sure how much of an impact he can make right away. He seems to be a rotational player at best until he increases the amount of pass-rushing moves in his arsenal.
The Lions' coaching staff may appreciate his maturity level at such a young age as well. Brown is married with two kids and has reportedly volunteered for Adam's Angels -- an organization for families who have children with cancer or have lost children to cancer.
A Few Thoughts on the Lions' DT Situation
Contrary to what Mike Mayock recently stated, I can't say that I share his sentiments regarding there being plenty of high-level players in this year's DT class. There are some great prospects with plenty of upside who the Lions should take a look at, but none of these guys are going to come close to replacing Ndamukong Suh or a healthy Nick Fairley.
If you ask me, Martin Mayhew's best bet is to go all-in on re-signing Suh and/or Fairley. If that doesn't work out, he can turn his attention to signing either Henry Melton or Stephen Paea in free agency and draft a DT in the early-to-mid rounds to develop accordingly.
2015 NFL Draft profiles: OT T.J. Clemmings (Pittsburgh), RB Duke Johnson (Miami [FL]), CB Eric Rowe (Utah), DT Michael Bennett (Ohio State), CB Quinten Rollins (Miami [OH]), DT Jordan Phillips (Oklahoma), OT Ereck Flowers (Miami [FL])
Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave any suggestions of prospects you would like to be profiled in the comments below.