As a college athlete, he performed well. Looking back at his last two seasons I was impressed with his production. Smaller than I like my LBs but, can’t argue with his tackle numbers, 212. I always watch to see how well players can tackle. In fantasy football, it is, of course, a key stat. I also, look for proper technique. Coaching my kids the fundamental part of tackling is key to not risking injury. Jayon Brown is a textbook on tackling. This was the biggest takeaway for me.
You guys remember Eric Kendricks? Our man Jayon Brown followed him as the next LB up from UCLA to go over 100 tackles in a season. Think of those points he would have scored in your fantasy league. The tackles were made all over the field. Speed wins, and not only can he fly to the ball, and chase the ball carrier down, he makes the tackles. One issue that jumps out, if blocked or making contact with a guard, he is removed from the play. You’re not getting a player who will be able to get free after contact to make plays, and that’s not all that exciting for us IDP players. Relying on speed and ability to dart around blockers is the way he shines.
A strong part of his game is defending the pass. He plucked 3 interceptions and was able to defend 6 pass breakups last season. He was used at times to man up on a TE, zone defense for me showed the best of Brown’s skills though. When he is backpedaling, he stays nice and low, leaving him ready to pounce. Love that from an LB! Looking comfortable in zone defense you can easily compare him to a Safety. Reacting while the ball is in the air with a turbo boost helps him to make a play on the ball, and to make contact at the catch point.
Getting After the QB
Along with his speed, there is a first step explosion. When blitzing, or rushing the QB, this is a great starting point. Firing off the snap he can get around the edge and apply pressure. With his inability to get away from contact he is a speed rusher who needs to win on the edge.
He does check off a lot of boxes for me as a three down LB. However, looking ahead to the pro game, I have a few questions. The best landing spot would be as a WLB where he can play in space. When you’re not going to get off blocks, you’re going to need to play in space. Using his speed, he can dart around traffic and make some tackles. I am not going to worry about his 40 times, as his speed on tape showed me everything I want to see.
Showcasing his pass defense will also help him secure a role in the NFL. Perhaps he plays on passing downs, where he can not only play in Nickel but, he can also be a factor blitzing. Options are what defensive coordinators want, and they like playmakers. Proving in college he can make plays if he can get to the ball, he would need to be in space to be a playmaker.
Position in NFL
I kept asking myself if he would be a better prospect at Safety or LB. It would be interesting if he moved into a safety role. Man defense would not be ideal. With the big, tall and physical TEs in the league, his lack of size would leave him hurting. Timing the ball into the receiver’s hands and making plays would be his best option. Tackling the players in front of him would not be a problem. Think along the lines of Su’a Cravens in Washington.
In the NFL draft, I see him going in the last two rounds. Size matters in the NFL front offices. Limitations on getting off blocks will scare off teams. Special teams, and more than likely a pass defense role, will be what gives him a chance to make a roster this season. In fantasy drafts that go down before the draft, I am not looking to draft him.
For me the bottom line is this, small LB, who can be removed from plays, would need a sub package role. I am not buying Jayon Brown and will have no issue seeing him going undrafted.
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