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2021 NFL Draft prospect profile: Spencer Brown, OT, Northern Iowa

Can Brown make the jump from zero-star tight end to NFL offensive tackle?

NCAA Football: Northern Iowa at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

It’s difficult to ignore Northern Iowa right tackle Spencer Brown. Standing 6-foot-812 inches tall and weighing 314 pounds, he stands out in just about any crowd. However, he was largely ignored in college recruiting, coming to Northern Iowa carrying a 0-star rating as a 6-foot-8, 244-pound tight end.

Brown made the logical transition to offensive tackle and quickly became Northern Iowa’s starting right tackle. He managed to maintain most of his athleticism despite adding 70 pounds, and proved to be just too big for most pass rushers to beat at his level.

The NFL is always hungry for starting offensive tackles, and Browns traits are the kind which always catch teams’ attention. But can Brown make the jump from the FCS level to the NFL?

Prospect: Spencer Brown

Games Watched: vs. South Dakota State (2019), vs. San Diego State (2019), vs. North Dakota State (2019)
Red Flags: Knee (2017)


Games Played: 33 (15 in 2019)

Quick Summary

Best: Length, movement skills, competitive toughness
Worst: Height, leverage, hand consistency
Projection: Swing tackle or developmental offensive tackle in a zone blocking scheme.

Game Tape

(Note: Brown is RT number 76)

Full Report

Northern Iowa offensive tackle Spencer Brown is a big, long, athletic and imposing presence on the offensive line.

Brown first earned a starting role in 2017 and has aligned at the right tackle position since returning from injury in 2018. He shows good movement skills on the edge, able to stay with speed rushers to the outside. Brown has quick feet, allowing him to execute a 45 degree or vertical pass set with ease, as well as stay in sync with the rest of the offensive line on outside zone runs.

Brown carries his weight very well, with an athletic build which belies considerable play strength. He is able to anchor well against power when he plays with good leverage, as well as create movement along the line of scrimmage on rushing plays. Brown also has very good competitive toughness, looking for work, fighting to sustain his blocks, and consistently trying to finish his blocks with the defender on the ground.

Brown struggles with maintaining consistent leverage, both with his body and with his hands. He can occasionally be slow to fire his hands, giving up his chest plate and allowing defenders to gain inside leverage. Brown can also struggle to maintain his knee and hip bend throughout the rep. He is prone to lunging on power runs and can allow his knees to straighten in pass protection. In either case, that can compromise his play strength as well as allow rushers past him in pass protection.

Overall Grade: 6.3 - This prospect has intriguing tools but will need polishing and consistency to compete for a starting job.


Brown projects as a likely swing tackle with the potential to push for a starting job with some development in a zone blocking system.

His measurables jump off the paper and his movement skills are obvious. However, so are the flaws in his game.

Brown’s size gives him an instant advantage in reach and he carries his 314 pounds with ease. He moves well and can stay in front of pass rushers to the outside. Brown carries his weight so well that in addition to being a smooth mover (most of the time), he can play with surprising power in the run game. That athleticism and play strength make him a solid fit in outside zone blocking schemes.

All those things are traits scouts drool over and coaches want to work with.

However, his sheer size is a double-edged sword that can hurt him when he isn’t careful.

As a tackle who is nearly 6-foot-9, leverage will always be a battle for Brown, and he will need to work on maintaining his knee bend and hip level throughout the play. He is a long-legged player and even a slight slip in leverage can cause his pads to rise considerably or him to lunge at defenders. Likewise, a higher center of gravity can make changing direction a struggle and athletic defenders can beat him inside fairly easily. His height can also make it surprisingly easy for him to be tripped up when playing in space or pulling.

There are also some more mundane issues in his game, such as hands which are occasionally reactive. He sometimes waits until defenders are already engaged to fire his punch, and by then it’s too late and many of his advantages go out the window.

Brown is a player that teams will want to work with, but they will need to make sure they have a solid plan in place, as well as the right environment to allow him to play to his strengths.