Arthur Brown #4, ILB, KSU
Weight: 231 lbs.
- Excellent stop, start, and change of direction ability.
- Excellent open field speed and short area burst.
- Very good instincts and play recognition ability.
- Fluid hips and smooth feet in coverage.
- Scrapes well. Can stone blockers in the hole.
- Has the power to contend with linemen on the second level.
- Good motor.
- Good interior blitzer.
- High football IQ.
- Defensive Captain.
- Will have trouble with 6’5" and 6’6" tight ends on jump balls.
- Cheats his hips at times when matched up with slot receivers in coverage.
- Needs to work on when to pedal and when to flip.
To me, Arthur Brown is the most talented and complete linebacker in this class. In a year where the smaller, athletic linebacker is so prominently featured, Brown is easily the lead dog in the pack. He may be a tad undersized, but he plays with such violence and power that you wouldn’t know he only weighs 230 pounds. It’s very rare to see a linebacker that can run in the 4.5s, has the ability to stop and start on a dime, and has the strength to stack and shed a guard on the second level. Combine that with his high football IQ, uncanny instincts, and a leadership pedigree on the Kansas State defense, and it is hard not to compare this "small" linebacker to another great "small" player in Ray Lewis. It may be high praise, but Brown's sometimes single-handed destruction of drives against Miami and Texas was a spitting image of the legendary Raven.
Brown’s greatest asset is his very, very good stop/start/accelerate ability. Whether it was closing on underneath receivers to limit yards after catch, bursting through a hole to tackle backs behind the line, or viciously blitzing up the middle, every snap was an athletic showcase. Beyond his natural physical gifts, his technique is very refined. His feet are as quick and his hips as fluid as any safety, and he is a very reliable tackler in the open field. I noticed that even when in man coverage against running backs in the flat, KSU liked to drop him all the way to the first down marker or beyond simply because they could. He would just shadow the running back from ten or fifteen yards deep rather than driving on the route and taking away the read. I presume that KSU did this to inject yet another body downfield to discourage intermediate to deep throws, and Brown is so athletically gifted that generally he could close on receivers in the flat anyway before they could clear more than three or four yards.
Beyond covering TEs and RBs, however, KSU also liked to line Brown up against slot receivers in spread offenses. His toughest task came against West Virginia standout Tavon Austin, widely considered the most dangerous openfield threat in college football. While Brown didn’t necessarily pass this test with flying colors, he demonstrated a good ability to stay with quick receivers over the middle long enough to take away the initial read during and give the rush that much more time to get to the passer. Where Brown failed against Austin was that he had a tendency to flip his hips far too early off the snap to run with the deep route, even when his only job was to escort Austin to the safety 15 yards back. Austin built off this tendency repeatedly to get Brown to flip and then cut back inside for easy yardage throughout the game. He needs to learn to just pedal with the route, discourage the QB throwing into the hole, and break on any underneath cuts that the receiver makes. The more he trusts his secondary, the more he can just focus on doing his own job.
Overall, Brown is one of the only surefire franchise linebackers in this class. He can quite literally do it all: Man coverage on receivers and backs, play deep zones in Tampa-2 schemes, blow up a fullback or stack a guard, blitz effectively both inside and on the edge, knife through traffic or scrape over the top. Whatever the scheme is, he can do it. Brown may be undersized, but he is a master at using leverage and his lower body strength to get under the pads of blockers and flat out wreck people. He might have a tough time with the Jimmy Grahams and Rob Gronkowskis of the world when going for a jump ball in the red zone, but it’s a small price to pay for having a great run defender who can also lock down players like Owen Daniels, Antonio Gates, and Aaron Hernandez in coverage. Brown’s best fit is a 4-3 Will or 3-4 Mo, but I have no doubt that he could perform admirably as as a Mike or Sam as well. He is the kind of player that defensive coordinators will love moving around to both create and counter matchup problems against opposing offenses, and he is absolutely worth a first round pick.