Player name: Jayon Brown
H/W: 6'0 231
Position: Inside and Outside Linebacker
School / Class: UCLA / Senior
Measureables: 4.70 40, 17 bench reps, 31.5" vertical jump, 10.0' broad jump
- Athleticism - Brown's athleticism just pops off the screen when I watched him play for the Bruins. Yeah, he ran a less than ideal 4.7 40 but his game speed is entirely different like a player with 4.5 speed. Can cover sideline to sideline in a hurry. Lateral agility is a major plus. Particularly effective dropping back into coverage with great footwork.
- Versatility - The Bruins deployed him seemingly everywhere but the defensive line. Has played as both a inside and outside linebacker in addition to safety due to great coverage abilities. Mostly used as an inside linebacker in a 4-3. Scheme versatile as well. He's been seen moonlighting as an 3-4 outside linebacker in both pass and run defense. Can play safety when assignment calls for it. A Swiss army knife that can spell starters with very little drop off in talent level. I was surprised at how versatile he was during college.
- Instincts / IQ - In the games that I watched, he's repeatedly in the right position to make the play. One of the best coverage linebackers in the class in terms of instincts. There were several times in that he saw a potential busted play and made his way to cover an open receiver pre snap. The thing that stood out to me is how fast he diagnoses plays and attacks any openings. In all the games that I watched, he hasn't yet taken a bad angle to the ball. Spatial awareness is very good. He gets to a lot of plays but when he doesn't, it's not for lack of awareness. Generally in the right place at the right time.
- Production - Here we go with the Titans' buzz word again. Put up a pretty solid 21 starts of work in 212 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 12 passes defensed. Led the team in both junior and senior seasons for tackles. He wasn't asked to rush the passer much so the sacks were a result of busted plays and great plays by him.
- Frame - The frame is a yuge question mark as 231 is very light for a linebacker even in today's age of smaller and quicker linebackers. Can he add weight to it without sacrificing speed? Needs an offseason of Steve Watterson and co. Functional strength could be a question that needs answering. This is the biggest negative for Brown.
- Run Defense - As a result of the previous entry, he's a walking liability in run defense as he gets lost in the maelstrom that is the wash easily due to a lack of size. A willing tackler but gets swallowed up by much bigger offensive linemen and tight ends. The positive thing is that he makes the effort but the size is a concern.
- Experience - Doesn't have a lot of starting experience thanks to the talent ahead of him. Only logged one full year of experience as a starter. It took an injury to current Sparkle Kitty Myles Jack for him to get on the field on a consistent basis. Still learning the nuances of being a full time starter.
A direct "like for like" replacement for Myles Jack when he went down with an ultimately career ending injury in 2015. A special teams ace for the Bruins before being promoted to the role he occupied. Not exactly chopped liver on the field as he racked up stats. A former three star recruit from the long time Cali and national HS power, Long Beach Poly. Titans DE Jurrell Casey went to the same HS along with Tampa Bay WR Desean Jackson. Brown was the general of the UCLA defense. He has several ties to the Titans organization as LB coach Lou Spanos was the DC at UCLA for a short time and Aaron Wallace was a teammate in college.
Yes, I do like the pick. Brown is a steal in the fifth round when he should have gone a round or even two earlier than he did. Sure, he needs some development time but he has all the right tools in place to make it happen in terms of coaching and support. The beauty of the Titans' team strengths is that he doesn't have the pressure of starting right away. He can develop behind all four linebacker starters while playing special teams. While I initially projected a "redshirt" year for him due to the depth in front of him, the buzz about him in the offseason programs has changed it to getting limited snaps. Having your college defensive coordinator as your position coach surely helps a bit, not to mention the greatest DC of all time. I think he competes for a starting job in 2018 after developing further in 2017. He'll likely fill in as a nickel backer role aka run around and try not to get run over by a bigger RB job. The athleticism will get him on the field, the rest is up to him.