Can Bobby Brown III Be The Steal Of The Draft?
The steal of the draft is hard to predict. But the answer is yes, Bobby Brown III could very well be the steal of the draft. Considering he hasn’t even suited up for an NFL game, however, Brown has a long way to go before he could be dubbed; “Steal of the Draft.”
The reason he is already in contention for such a prestigious designation is he is big and he is athletic. He ran a 5.04 40 yard dash with a 1.68 10 yard split. He also looks the part. He is 6’4” 321 lbs with a +7’ wingspan and 10.5” hands. His 40 time puts him in the 90th percentile among defensive tackles and in the 95th for his 10-yard.
Three things about those numbers.
- Only 19 defensive tackles in 34 years who weigh more than 315 lbs have posted a better 40 time than Brown.
- Only six of the 19 posted a better 10-yard split.
- Aaron Donald at 285 lbs ran a 4.68 40, but his 10-yard split was 1.65. The case could be made that a D linemen’s 10-yard split is more applicable to what they are asked to do from play to play.
Now, being big and fast at defensive tackle doesn’t ensure that Brown will make a splash in the NFL. Which in order to be considered a “SOTD” he would have to do. Of the six with a faster 10-yard split, only Dontari Poe could be considered as a household name.
Poe is an interesting player to compare Brown to because of their athletic ability relative to their size. Poe was 6’3” 346 lbs coming into the league in 2012. He ran a 4.89 40 and a 1.67 10-yard split. He also logged the following:
Vertical Leap: 29.5 inches
Broad Jump: 105 inches
20 Yd Shuttle: 4.56 seconds
Three Cone: 7.90 seconds
Here is what Brown logged:
Vertical Leap: 33 inches
Broad Jump: 113 inches
20 Yd Shuttle: 4.58 seconds
Three Cone: 7.62 seconds
While Brown bested Poe in most, that .28 second edge he has in the three-cone could be telling for Brown’s rise to SOTD. The three-cone drill is often applied when assessing edge-rushing talent. As a benchmark, Aaron Donald ran a 7.11 three-cone and Michael Brockers ran a 7.46. Brown’s three-cone time puts him in the top 75th percentile of players at his size and the 11th fastest DT in his draft class.
And the thing about that is he wasn’t used as a pass rusher at A&M. He was a run-stuffing lineman, but despite his predominant role as nose tackle, he accrued 5.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss in the nine games of his junior season. His sack production out-paced some of the top edge rushing prospects from this year’s draft.
Not only did he have a good individual year, but the Aggies also had a great year and that success was fueled in large part by their defense. They ranked first in yards allowed and third in points allowed in the high flying SEC. A&M’s run defense was particularly stout, ranking second in all of college football allowing only 92 yards per game. Of course, Brown played a large part in the success of the run defense. All the hype about running in a straight line or touching cones quickly doesn’t add up to a hill of beans if the guy doesn’t have the skills to wreak havoc on an offensive line. What it does prove though is that he is, in fact, on the freakish side of the big lane clogger DT spectrum. Being big and fast at his position means he has a lot of potential.
When looking at tape from his games from last season it is clear that he has a good skill set. He has nimble feet and quality handwork. He has the strength to bull rush offensive linemen, but he also has the bend and balance to swim around him. He has the ability to plant his foot and change direction quickly to get outside and stop runs or screen passes.
The next big factor that will determine if Bobby Brown will be the steal of the draft is if he can get on the field enough to prove he’s got the goods. This past offseason the Rams moved on from Michael Brockers and Morgan Fox. In 2020, those two accounted for over 1,000 snaps on defense. A’Shawn Robinson and Sebastian Joseph-Day are likely the starters and will chew up the lion’s share of that playing time. Behind them, there isn’t much depth. Greg Gaines and Marquise Copeland combined for less than 20% of snaps last season. So regardless if he wins a starting position, there will be plenty of playing time for Brown.
But the steal of the draft can’t just be good enough to make the team and get on the field. The SOTD wins the job! A fourth-rounder should make the roster and see playing time, but not every fourth-rounder makes the A-team.
The Rams first priority with drafting three defensive linemen was to try to replace the irreplaceable. Michael Brockers had edge-rushing speed, but could also defend the run. He was versatile, too. He played both nose tackle and five-technique in his time with the Rams.
Brown is currently the lineman on the Rams that is physically most similar to Brockers. They are about the same height, weight, and length and Brown has that kind of versatility that Brockers brought to the table. This certainly increases Brown’s chances of landing that starting spot, since he can compete for both the nose tackle and defensive end position.
With Brown’s speed and athleticism, he has a shot at beating out Sebastian Joseph-Day, but at the end of the day, SJD is still faster than Brown. The former sixth-round pick has also proved that he can hang in the league. He has put up decent numbers with limited playing time, until becoming the starter last season. Three sacks, four passes deflected, six TFL, and nine QB hits.
But going up against Robinson, Brown may have an edge. He is both bigger and faster than Robinson. Brown’s ability to get outside to shut down runners may be the thing that allows him to edge out Robinson. The Rams struggled last season to defend horizontally and Robinson is more of the traditional pile pusher kind of lineman. Brown can do that too, but also has the ability to get outside. Robinson also missed much of last season with a heart condition.
Furthermore, Robinson will soon be a free agent after this season. Brown’s rookie contract will be much more attractive than Robinson’s, so if he can beat him out, he will be a steal in more ways than one.
Brown has the raw physical gifts and the skill set to earn a starting job, but to truly be the steal of the draft he can’t just be a starter. He will need to be a dominant one and for him to get there, Brown will have to put in the work.
Firstly, he will need to work on his conditioning. The biggest knock on Brown coming into the draft was he seemed to lose steam or turn off the motor on some plays or even lack effort. This could be because he is carrying too much weight. That despite his rare speed, his weight is a liability. The best thing about this is he recognizes that criticism. In his post-pro day interview, he told Owen Buchanan from TexAgs that he would be focusing specifically on his endurance and that he recognizes that the game has moved away from stationary defensive linemen.
Why that is impressive is it shows even further proof of his commitment to improving. He also improved year over year in college and he sets a very high bar for himself. That commitment got him drafted and it will be necessary for him to become the steal of the draft.
The biggest advantage he has is his landing spot. Aaron Donald is second to none when it comes to conditioning and defensive line coach Eric Henderson is all about work ethic. Simply being in that culture will get the best out of a player. Even Aaron Donald felt he improved after two seasons with Henderson saying he helped him take his game to “another level.”
Henderson was high on Brown coming into the draft and likely swayed the Rams war room in his direction. The feeling was completely mutual. Brown is excited to be a Ram, too. He described being drafted by the Rams as an “out of body experience” because that meant he would get to play next to Donald.
And he has the right attitude going into it. He said he would change the way he wrote on paper if Donald told him to.
The landing spot will also benefit him because of his age. He won’t turn 21 till August so having a good culture will help him mature. While he comports himself very well in press conferences, he also Gus Frerotte’d himself while celebrating a sack against Florida. He ended up missing the next game with a knee injury. So like most 20-year-olds, some maturing is a positive.
Not only will the Rams culture be good for him, but Brown will also fit right in. When describing why a team should choose to draft him LAFB writer Steven Haglund wrote, “Brown described himself as a dog who works every day.” Henderson’s slogan for his position group from last season was exactly that; DawgWork. It was later adopted by the team writ large.
If Brown is committed to DawgWork then he can absolutely be the steal of the draft. If he learns from Aaron Donald and conditions like Aaron Donald he will become even faster and stronger. He will turn some of his weight from a liability to a benefit.
Brown can rise to the level of Michael Brockers. He absolutely has that high of a ceiling. Replacing a first-round draft pick with a fourth-rounder is the definition of a steal.