The New York Giants do not need to draft a defensive tackle early in the 2020 NFL Draft. They have invested a tremendous amount in the position over the last few years and have far too many other pressing needs to draft another interior defender highly.
That fact is probably pretty depressing for Dave Gettleman, who loves the position and has a golden opportunity to draft Derrick Brown. The Auburn product looks to be one of the best defensive tackle prospects to come out of college in years, with the ability to play in a variety of defenses and dominate the line of scrimmage.
But could he really be worth a top five pick?
Prospect: Derrick Brown (iDL, Auburn)
Games watched: vs. Oregon (2019), vs. LSU (2019), vs. Alabama (2019), vs. Minnesota (2019)
Red flags: None
Games played (starts):
Tackles for a loss: 33.0
Forced fumbles: 5
Passes defensed: 8
Games played: 12
Tackles for a loss: 11.5
Forced fumbles: 2
Passes defensed: 4
Best: Size, length, power, athleticism, competitive toughness, hand usage
Worst: Balance, speed, production
Projection: A starting interior defensive lineman with positional and scheme versatility and Pro Bowl upside
Auburn’s Derrick Brown is a big, tall, and long defensive tackle prospect with long arms and good thickness through his upper and lower body. Brown plays with explosive power and good short-area quickness to overwhelm blockers. He features a very good get-off, keying off the snap well to be one of the first players moving on any given play. Brown plays with a good pad level for a tall tackle, consistently playing with good knee bend to keep his hips and pads low and maximize his leverage. He also shows good hand placement to gain blockers’ chest plates and gain control immediately.
Brown has rare play strength and uses it as both a run defender and a pass rusher. He can overpower individual blockers in one-on-one situations and penetrate the backfield to disrupt the play. He also shows a good plan as a pass rusher, using speed and finesse as a counter to his power when blockers are ready for it. He shows a variety of pass rush moves, including a very good push-pull move to capitalize on blockers overcommitting to defending his power.
Brown can play as both a one and two-gap defensive tackle. He uses his strength and length well to control two gaps when head-up on a blocker. His explosiveness and agility, meanwhile, allow him to defeat reach blocks and attack individual gaps. Brown can shed blocks almost at will and his long arms and great strength give him a large tackle radius.
Brown is a good athlete in a short area but isn’t a rangy defensive tackle who can make plays over a long distance. He can also play with a bit better balance. Brown generates considerable momentum with his rushes and can wind up playing past his toes, which can make it a bit too easy for blockers to push him down or force him to the ground.
Overall Grade: 7.1 - Has the traits to immediately become an impact starter as a rookie. He should become one of the best players on his team early in his career and a Pro Bowl-caliber player. [Grading Scale]
Derrick Brown projects as a starting interior defensive lineman in any defensive front, with the potential to be a perennial Pro Bowler if the scheme allows him to produce.
Brown’s rare blend of size, length, power, and athleticism allow him to play any alignment on the defensive interior and even rush off the edge on occasion. He was frequently used as a nose tackle in Auburn’s defensive scheme, which held back his production but should be used as a moveable piece at the NFL level. Brown has the ability to two-gap as well as rush a single gap, which further increases his versatility and scheme diversity at the NFL level. Brown has the potential to be a foundational piece in a “multiple” defense as he can play a variety of roles in 3-4, 4-3, and hybrid defensive fronts.
There might be some hesitation regarding Browns’ athletic testing numbers, but his play on the field shows an impressively athletic big tackle who can move surprisingly well inside a limited area. He does need to make sure he consistently plays under control, as NFL linemen will be more than happy to make him pay for lunging by taking him out of the play.
That being said, Brown also can out-play his college production as he was routinely around the ball but was forced to overcome waves of blockers.
All told, Brown should be one of the very first players drafted and should have an immediate impact on any team that drafts him.