It has been well-documented that he possesses track-type speed. He does show it on the field and stands out as a player who effortlessly is in position to be a high-tackle production linebacker. Brown could be effective in nearly any variation of linebacker in any defense but projects best as a 4-3 outside linebacker who can be active in pass defense.
There are many uncertainties that surround Brown's game, including his overall ability to adapt from the college game to pros, where he could display minimal effort and make plays. In the end an athlete of this size and speed won't last much later than the first round because he has yet to scratch the surface of his potential as a player.
He is strong over the tight end and has the footwork and hip mobility to run with any tight end in coverage. There are few running backs even at the NFL level who can outrun Brown and get an edge in the run game, and few will slip open against him in the pass game.
While he excels out in space, he is also able to play in the box and sniff out runs as a gap defender and make explosive plays at the point of attack. He uses his pure athletic ability and speed to dip and run by linemen into the backfield. Brown also displays the power to run through running backs both in protection and carrying the ball.
He is a productive tackler and rarely falls off the ball once getting there, making it likely he will continue that high-volume production for years to come.
While Brown could stand to put on some weight, there are very few things that Brown needs to do physically to mold his game for the next level; many of the changes revolve around his work habits."
Like Carter (Dallas Cowboys' second round pick in April), Brown's best asset is his unbelievable athleticism. A two-sport athlete for North Carolina, Brown's straight-line speed has made him a standout for both the football and track teams. He lacks the bulk and physicality that scouts traditionally look for at linebacker, making him a poor fit in the 3-4 scheme. His athleticism makes him a quality weakside linebacker for the 4-3, however.
With only 11 career starts entering his senior campaign, Brown's final NFL grade is largely dependent on how he performs in his final season in Chapel Hill. His tantalizing upside, however, could result in his being drafted earlier than other linebackers with much greater production over their respective careers.
Read & React: Still a work in progress in this area, though he showed improvement as the 2010 season wore on. Takes a false-step on occasion, but is an alert player whose rare speed puts him in position to make the play. Reacts quickly in pass coverage once the ball is thrown. Hustles to the ball.
Run Defense: Not an overly physical defender. Relies on his speed and elusiveness to evade blockers, rather than taking them on. Too often is stale-mated at the point of attack when blockers are able to get their hands on him. Doesn't use his hands well to shed blocks, at this time. Possesses excellent speed to beat backs to the edge, however, and has the burst to slip through gaps to create tackle-for-loss opportunities.
Pass Defense: Often fooled by good play-action, but has the flexibility and straight-line speed to recover. Gains good depth on his drops when in obvious passing situations. Keeps his head on a swivel and shows some feel for zone coverage. Reads the quarterback's eyes and can plant and break on the ball. At least average ball-skills for the position and has the athleticism to be a threat with the ball in his hands on a return (see INT return against Tennessee in the Music City Bowl). Has the physical skills to eventually excel in this area.
Tackling: Doesn't possess a great deal of explosiveness as a hitter. Demonstrates good, but not great lateral agility to break down and make the tackle in the open field. Will overpursue and leave himself vulnerable to the cut-back, on occasion. Uses his long arms to "rassle" down the ball-carrier, rather than striking him and making the secure stop.
Pass Rush/Blitz: Very raw in this area. Possesses the explosive athleticism you can't coach, but relies almost exclusively on his speed and agility to elude blockers, including running backs. Doesn't show much in terms of pass rush technique.
Intangibles: Two-sport athlete who also participates in track for North Carolina. Set the school record in the indoor 60-meter dash with a 6.72 time in 2009. Unofficially clocked at 4.28 seconds by UNC coaches during off-season conditioning in 2009. Was named a special teams captain in 2010 for earning the most points in Carolina's scoring system."
For the most part takes good angles in pursuit vs. the run game and breakdowns well when running the alley. He generates good natural power into contact, plays low, exhibits a snap through the hips and will run his legs and wrap on contact.
He will run himself out of plays at times in space, at times plays a bit out of control, but for the most part is a solid tackler. Exhibits better instincts and read-and-react skills than given credit for. He does a nice job of quickly locating the football, doesn’t bite on a ton of play fakes and is quick to diagnose the play.
At times he will seal himself away from the action inside the box, but for the most part I was impressed with his natural feel of the game. He needs to do a better job using his hands and extending his arms in order to take on blocks inside, but he looks natural and sudden running around blocks and keeping himself clean.
However, he too often leads with his shoulder at the point of attack and, despite his natural power as a strong kid, doesn’t shed blocks well inside and can be easily sealed from the action. Looks natural in coverage. He’s quick footed, fluid in the hips and is consistently able to re-direct and explode out of his breaks.
At times gets a bit overextended with hips working in his drop but he collects himself quickly, displays natural balance and exhibits the closing speed to still make plays on the football. He looks natural in zone coverage, keeps his head on a swivel and covers a lot of ground in space.
Gets a bit impatient in man coverage, he likes to be physical, and will lose balance into contact trying to create a bump for himself when asked to re-direct. Also, is a bit slow to locate the throw when asked to turn and run vertically.
However, he possesses the balance and fluidity that makes him tough to separate from and even if he does give up a step, possesses the second gear to quickly close. Displays the athleticism to hold his own in space in the NFL over the slot and in man coverage vs. NFL caliber running backs.
Impression: A run and hit guy with impressive athleticism and range. Possesses solid instincts and is a better read-and-react linebacker than given credit for, but still not elite in that area. Nevertheless, looks like a starting caliber 43 weak side guy who would be ideal in a cover two scheme."
Ranges sideline to sideline and is outstanding in coverage — drops effortlessly and is flexible, agile and sudden to shadow.
Is a slam-dunk lottery selection on measurables and workout ability but does not exhibit an aggressive temperament and intensity leaves something to be desired.
Is not physical at the point and too often relies on the cavalry to tackle.
Has yet to adopt a professional approach to the game, has a fragile psyche and trust issues and the interview process might go a long way in determining his ultimate draft value."
That first step is critical for Brown. If he's off, he doesn't have the power or pass rush moves to beat offensive tackles. Brown reportedly played most of the 2010 season at 225 pounds and is now listed by UNC as 230 pounds. Even at that he'll have to get bigger to survive in the NFL.
Even as a spot starter in 2010, Brown finished with 72 tackles and three interceptions. He's expected to start at the weak side this season and it's natural position. Brown's best scheme may be in a cover-2, which would help mask his deficiencies working straight ahead against the run.
Bold Statement: Athletically speaking, Brown will be compared favorably to Von Miller in April. (Don't mistake that for pass rush ability)
Games Watched: (All 2010) LSU, Clemson, Virginia, Tennessee
• The first thing you notice about Brown is his first step. It's hard to justify saying any other college linebacker has a better first step.
• Has track speed, which is unique for a linebacker prospect. He can play up to reported 10.6 100-yard dash time. There are few ball carriers who can run away from Brown.
• Is not the most physical defender and can get overmatched more than he should. If Brown wants to survive in the NFL, he has to get stronger.
• Remains active when he's dropped back in zone, especially when routes are developing behind him.
• North Carolina has used Brown over the slot receiver, especially if its a tight end.
• Brown has hands that would be considered good if he played safety. As it is, they're excellent for a linebacker. It's not necessarily his interception total, but his ability to make a play on the ball.
• You can tell by Browns measurements alone that he needs to get bigger to make it at the next level. His frame has good definition, but needs to get bulkier throughout.
• Was only a spot starter in 2010, mostly because Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter were on the team.
• Is a terror on special teams. He'll be able to help an NFL team there immediately."
Has uncommon speed for a LB; indeed is a former state sprint champion who holds the UNC school record for the indoor 60-meter dash with a 6.72 clocking; not always that instinctive but can outrun most mistakes;
Has exceptional lateral range, but isn’t that aggressive or instinctive attacking the line of scrimmage; can run with just about any receiver in college football and has decent ball skills; picked off three passes last fall;
Not all that big at barely 230 pounds and can be engulfed at the point of attack by big offensive lineman, but is a physical tackler; is a also a dynamic special teamer."
Is quick to get to the football when dropping into short zone coverage, takes pretty good pursuit angles in open space... Keeps head up in pursuit, has good vision when scraping through traffic... Is not afraid to take on blockers, has the ability to run through receivers to get to the football... Uses good leverage when taking on bigger blockers...
Does a good job of keeping eyes in the backfield when getting blocked... Had a terrific 2011 campaign and showcased playmaking ability with 5.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and three interceptions... Set the UNC indoor 60-meter dash record at 6.72 seconds as part of the Tar Heels track team in 2009... Is an exceptional athlete, a bit raw, but upside should make Brown an early-round pick and he might even sneak into the end of the first round.
Negatives -- Is a little undersized to play outside in a true 3-4 defense, needs to add a little bulk... Attempts to arm tackle too often, tends to lunge at times and not form up... Will over-pursue on stretch plays and screen passes...
Needs to work on breaking down when tackling... Agility and footwork are not as solid as speed and explosiveness, will miss tackles in open space... Needs to work on hand control when taking on bigger blockers, does not get pushed around easily, but also struggles to disengage too often... Needs to get quicker at diagnosing plays and reacting...
Needs to work on pass coverage skills, will bite on play-action passes regularly... Is still a very raw talent, may need some NFL coaching to become a consistent contributor at the next level... Is a better athlete than football player; has a high ceiling but might never reach it, a big risk but potentially high reward type, especially in the first round."
The linebacker had been overshadowed by star players like Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant, but he made a name for himself by finishing second on the team with 72 tackles despite starting only five games.
Now as a senior in 2011, Brown--through eight games--is tops on the squad in total tackles (53), solo tackles (32), tackles for loss (seven) and sacks (4.5). Brown has a ton of experience, having played sparingly as a freshman before starting six games at weakside linebacker in 2009.
His physical assets are not particularly impressive ( he stands at 6'2'' and 230 pounds), but he makes up for any size deficiencies with speed.
A member of the track team, Brown set a school record in the indoor 60-meter dash last season and he has been clocked as fast as 4.40 in the 40-yard dash. That is almost unheard of quickness for a linebacker. Furthermore, he is very strong despite his relative lack of build and is a sound tackler."