LB ZACH BROWN – UNC – 6-1, 244
Great athlete, good LB. Special player on the move. Has the speed and movement skills to cover a lot of ground. Natural cover guy. Looks like a Safety at times. Very gifted player. His highlights will make you think Brown is a special player – sacks, INTs, great plays on the run.
Unfortunately that is only part of the equation. Simply put, he’s a finesse LB. And that is about the worst thing you can say about a LB. Uncomfortable when playing in traffic. Put on the Clemson tape and you’ll see Brown unable to get off blocks of TE Dwayne Allen, at TE who isn’t known for blocking.
Also a highly inconsistent tackler. Doesn’t always get his feet under him and then attack the target squarely. Reaches, grabs, and pulls instead of wrapping up and taking down his targets. Prefers to be a shoulder tackler when he’s on the move. Did lead UNC in tackles in 2011. Still, not nearly as productive as a player with his ability should have been. Only had 143 solo tackles in 4 years. Luke Kuechly had 102 in 2011 alone. Lavonte David had 150 solo stops in just 2 years at Nebraska.
Very good cover skills. Brown has the speed and ability to help on TEs and even WRs. He plays the passing lanes well. Brown gets excellent depth on his pass drops. He can use his speed to jump routes over the middle. He had 3 INTs this year and 7 for his career. Has excellent hands. Catches the ball like a TE. Brown is a good blitzer as well. The Tar Heels let him fly off the edge and attack interior gaps. Brown had 5.5 sacks this year. He can get on top of a QB in a flash.
Had an up and down showing at the Senior Bowl. At times looked like he was working his way through some issues, but then struggled on the next drill. One particular thing that bugged me was that he was “catch-tackling” in a simple thud drill with other LBs. This is the one time when LBs should show no hesitance. You simply run, tackle a LB who’s holding the ball and the two of you fall on a pad. Football 101. Brown would hesitate before making contact. That bugs the heck out of me.
“Only” ran 4.50 at the Combine, but that was after bulking up to 244. With better tackling skills, might be a Top 20 pick. Because of his issues, Brown will likely be a 2nd round pick. There is hope for him, but Brown needs a coach or veteran player to light a fire under him.